Abie the Agent is an American comic strip about a Jewish car salesman by Harry Hershfield. It debuted in 1914.

Abie the Agent
Harry Hershfield's Abie the Agent
Author(s)Harry Hershfield
Current status/scheduleConcluded daily & Sunday strip
Launch dateFebruary 2, 1914
End date1940
Syndicate(s)King Features Syndicate
Genre(s)Humor, immigrant Jewish life, Yiddishism

Publication history Edit

When Hershfield had success with a Yiddish character in his comic strip Desperate Desmond, he was encouraged by his editor to create a new strip concerning Yiddishism and Jewish immigrants in the United States. The strip debuted in the New York Journal on February 2, 1914.[1]

The strip became popular and other cartoons were made.[1] The titles were "Iska Worreh" (Aug 5) and "Abie Kabibble Outwitting His Rival" (Sept 23).[2]

After the strip dated January 24, 1932, the comic strip went on hiatus, due to a contract dispute between Hershfield and the syndicate, International Feature Service. The strip resumed in 1935 with the King Features Syndicate and ran until 1940.[3]

The Sunday page included a topper. This was called Phooey Fables in January 1926, Dictated But Not Read from February until the end of 1926, and Homeless Hector from 1927 until the hiatus in 1932.[3]

Characters and story Edit

Abraham Kabibble, known as Abie the Agent, was the first Jewish protagonist of an American comic strip.[4] Abie’s humorous caricature was a rebuttal of some of the Jewish stereotypes in caricatures, and represented a moderately successful middle-class immigrant.[5] Abie and his friends had many typical Jewish characteristics, such as their names or their use of Yiddish words and accents, they also lacked many of the negative or malicious elements, such as exaggerated physical traits, found in the depictions of Jews from this time. Abie was in many ways indistinguishable from other Americans. During 1917, the character enlisted in the United States Army to help the U.S. forces in World War I.

The character lost many of his more typical Jewish characteristics over the decades, showing his successful integration but also slowly diminishing the particular features of this comic strip.[6] The comic was produced by a Jewish artist, but can be considered discriminatory since it arguably only tried to promote the cultural assimilation of Jews as Americans, at the same time distinguishing them from other ethnicities like Mexicans or African Americans who were often depicted negatively. That, however, was the focus of the strip.[6]

In popular culture Edit

An indication of the strip's popularity was the reference to ‘Abe Kabibble’ in the 1930 Marx Brothers movie Animal Crackers.[6]

Harry Hershfield's Abie the Agent (1917)

Two Animated shorts were made in 1917 by International Film Service.

See also Edit

References Edit

  1. ^ a b Abie the Agent at Don Markstein's Toonopedia. Archived from the original on March 13, 2012.
  2. ^ Lenburg, Jeff (1999). The Encyclopedia of Animated Cartoons. Checkmark Books. p. 18. ISBN 0-8160-3831-7. Retrieved 16 May 2020.
  3. ^ a b Holtz, Allan (2012). American Newspaper Comics: An Encyclopedic Reference Guide. Ann Arbor: The University of Michigan Press. p. 41. ISBN 9780472117567.
  4. ^ Paul Buhle (2000-09-28). "Walker in the Imagined City". The Nation. Retrieved 2007-04-23.
  5. ^ Craig D'Ooge (1995-06-23). "'Featuring the Funnies': Exhibition Displays 100 Years of Comic Strips". The Library of Congress. Archived from the original on 30 April 2007. Retrieved 2007-04-23.
  6. ^ a b c Moss, Richard (February 2007). "Racial Anxiety on the Comics Page: Harry Hershfield's "Abie the Agent," 1914-1940". The Journal of Popular Culture. 40 (1): 90–108. doi:10.1111/j.1540-5931.2007.00355.x.

External links Edit