The Saturday Comics: Buster Brown

17 Sep

September 17, 2011

Today Buster Brown is known as the shoe company with the old-fashioned cartoon kid and his dog as their mascot. However, it is an amazing example of merchandising and product placement going back to 1904.

From wiki: Buster Brown was a comic strip character created in 1902 by Richard Felton Outcault which was known for his association with the Brown Shoe Company. (The name “Buster” came either directly or indirectly from the popularity of Buster Keaton, then a child actor in vaudeville.)

This mischievous young boy was loosely based on a boy near Outcault’s home in Flushing, New York. His physical appearance, including the pageboy haircut, was utilized by Outcault and later adopted by Buster Brown. The actual boy’s name was Granville Hamilton Fisher, son of Charles and Anna Fisher of Flushing. The family subsequently moved to Amityville, New York where Charles Fisher ran a real estate and insurance business on Merrick Road. Granville operated a phonograph and radio sales and repair shop across the street from his father until his sudden death in 1936.

Yes, that is based on a real person.

I can’t say I am a fan of the strip but it was extremely popular in its day. (Please click on it to enlarge. It is a little sketchy.)

However, I am a huge fan of this particular strip, which is based on the fact that they merchandised the Hell out of Buster Brown. The way The Simpsons were everywhere at the height of their popularity is pretty much how Buster Brown was back then. And here, well-over 100 years later, he is still used by Buster Brown shoes. The following strip is hysterical because on the one hand it is poking fun at all the Buster Brown merchandise but at the same time it is an amazing advertisement for all the Buster Brown merchandise. Pokemon cartoons are nothing more than half-hour advertisements for Pokemon but this beat it by a century.

4 Responses to “The Saturday Comics: Buster Brown”

  1. Mac of BIOnighT September 17, 2011 at 12:29 am #

    That dog is gonna give me nightmares tonight, what a scary – terrifying! – drawing style O__o
    Great analysis of merchandising starting much earlier than we suspect! And that’s just as scary a thought as the dog is…


    • bmj2k September 17, 2011 at 12:58 am #

      Oh, that art. I’m going back to last week’s post and check out Neal Adams again.


  2. The Hook September 17, 2011 at 2:27 pm #

    Nostalgia rules! Great look into the past.


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