Everyone else has been linking to the 1907 comic strip Madge the Magician’s Daughter by W.O. Wilson — why shouldn’t The Beat?
While enjoying this newspaper strip’s whimsy and imagination, it also gets us pondering. What would W.O. Wilson be doing today? The market for lavishly drawn comic strips has dried up; ditto illustration. Perhaps he would do children’s books. As wild and fun as the strip is, the art is kind of weird and wonky…nowhere near the virtuoso skill of a Feininger or O’Neill. If we plopped Wilson down in today’s comics market, he’d probably be doing weird-ass indie comics for AdHouse or Top Shelf or PictureBox, and he’d be considered an “indie” artist. Whatever that means.


  1. Trippy! Thanks for posting, Heidi!

    I think the artwork is actually kind of mainstream for that time. The stories seem to be phoned in, but it’s fun to see all the pictures of peacocks and wildebeasts and craziness. I wonder what Wilson did after this strip.

  2. Today, Mr. Wilson would be doing hack illo work at nights, tee shirts & checkbook illustrations & coloring books, working days in a newspaper or magazine or design agency doing grunt production work …

    90% of contemporary illustration is stylized diagrams. No need to draw, much less please the eye.

    Grumble, grumble, mutter, mutter

  3. If he were younger, he wouldn’t have been exposed to the style his “older” self grew up with. He’d probably be knocking off Sparky Schulz or Johnny Hart, like maybe Broomhilda meets Jack Sparrow. (That last trademark and copyright JRT 2008, all rights reserved under international conventions enforced by colorful, out of work Olympics security staff who form a team to root out bootleg dvds).

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