Otto Soglow didn't invent the pantomime comic strip, but he certainly became its most famous and honored proponent. The Little King entertained millions of readers from 1931 until 1975. It didn't matter what language you spoke or in what country you read it—the gags and the deceptively simple artwork were universal.
Cartoon Monarch : Otto Soglow and The Little King
Edited by Dean Mullaney.
Introduction by Jared Gardner. Foreword by Ivan
A BIG BOOK FOR A LITTLE KING!!! Cartoon Monarch: Otto Soglow and The Little King is a long-overdue examination of the unique pantomime cartoons of Otto Soglow, who not only entertained millions for more than fifty years but whose influence remains current in the works of Chris Ware, Daniel Clowes, Ivan Brunetti, and others. This compendium features 432 pages of Soglow's The Little King—plus the complete run of The Ambassador, the strip that preceded the King in the comics pages, as well as copious examples of his other artwork.
As contributing editor Jared Gardner notes in his introduction, Otto Soglow's Little King is a monarch who sits stiffly on the throne but bursts into life at the sight of a hotdog stand or at the approach of a rowdy mob. He is a man of the people who has somehow found himself on the wrong side of the palace steps, but he makes the most of it, trying to do right by his office and find what pleasures he can at the absurd outer reaches of his daily rituals. It was often said that Otto Soglow resembled his creation, and he did nothing to disabuse people of that notion as he regularly performed in character throughout his career. As is explored in this volume, the resemblance was more than merely physical: like his most famous creation, Soglow was a man whose origins and political sensibilities were always with the working man on the street—and even the angry mob. Yet while he began his career as a radical artist publishing in The New Masses and The Liberator, a decade later he was working for William Randolph Hearst and creating advertisements for Pepsi Cola and oil companies. The Little King is born out of the tension between his political idealism and his professional ambitions.
Much of the humor in The Little King is aimed at puncturing pomposity and, as Ivan Brunetti points out in his Foreword, Soglow accomplishes it with drawings that are tightly composed, exquisitely timed, carefully structured pieces of machinery. "His process of streamlining is at the root of why his cartoons have a timeless sophistication and elegance," writes Brunetti, "and continue to entice new readers and cartoonists. It's high time for such a fitting tribute to this cartoon monarch."
9.25" x 7.5" hardcover with dustjacket, 432 pp., $49.99. ISBN: 978-1-61377-148-8.
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Otto Soglow (1900-1975) was born
in the Yorkville section of New York City, studied with John Sloane
at the Art Students League, and sold his first drawings to pulp
magazines. In the late 1920s, his social-realist drawings were
appearing in such radical publications as The New Masses
and The Liberator, as well as the mainstream Life
and Collier's. He began streamlining his style and in 1931
created The Little King while at The New Yorker.
Three years later, the strip moved to the Sunday comics pages of
King Features Syndicate. He illustrated about twenty-five books and
continued The Little King until his death.