Buster Brown was the first newspaper comic strip, and Buster himself was a charmingly mischievous little imp, with far more interest to him than the irritatingly gallant and good-hearted Little Lord Fauntleroy. I mention them together because both established a style of dress for boys which was, even at the time, seen as being unacceptably sissy. It is somewhat ironic, because neither fictional character was meant to be in any way effeminate, and yet that was how boys interpreted their clothing.
Buster had a long-suffering mother, as all the best little boys in fiction have (such as Mrs Brown in the 'William' stories), and - a creation of real genius - his dog Tige. Tige's breeding was, to put it kindly, indeterminate, and he was able to not just think English (as a lot of comic strip canines can), but actually speak it, commenting on the action like the Greek Chorus in the plays of antiquity.
This is the first of a series of Buster Brown originals which will appear in 'Petticoat Discipline Monthly'. One of the mysteries in this sample is Tige's comment in the title frame, 'He may dance his way into the 400 - like Harry What's-his-name'. I believe I have the solution. 'The 400' was a term from the gilded age of American free enterprise for the richest 400 people in the United States. In fact, even today 'Forbes' magazine publishes a '400' list.
Harry Lehr was a unfeeling cad and a thoroughly nasty person, but he was facinated by 'Society', and though not from a moneyed background, he managed to become part of the set by marrying a widow who was wealthy. The story is told at this site:
The picture of Buster
in frock and petticoats performing a lively dance at the top of the page
is just wonderful; so dynamic, and so winning. And the last frame is funny
but touching too, with Tige looking downcast and sorry for his master,
and Buster quoting Herbert Spencer - comics certainly demanded a bit more
intellect of the reader than they do today! - and determining that
he will be happy, despite his sore bottom. It is impossible not to like