Unnatural History Lessons

The early newspaper comic supplements used a wide variety of materials to fill their pages, among them alphabets — which could be put to several uses: satiric or purely nonsensical — seem to have been particularly appreciated. Here is an example from the New York Journal of 6 February 1898:

In this particular case, the theme looks back to Edward Lear’s and Lewis Carroll’s composite plants and animals, as well as to a long XIX century tradition of chimerae, and forward to Gustave Verbeek’s Terrors of the Tiny Tads and Loony Lyrics of Lulu, JP Benson’s Woozlebeasts, and many other istances.

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