by Richard S. West

July [?] to November 1860

Thomas W. Strong, the enterprising publisher of Yankee Notions, launched the first comic campaign paper in July 1860 to satirize the crowded presidential field of that year. It was an 8-page elephant folio, double the size of Harper's Weekly. The only issue located, number 14 for November, contains a grand total of 141 woodcut engravings. The largest image in the paper, the cover cartoon showing Lincoln and Douglas as horses in a race, was probably the only artwork executed specifically for this issue. All of the rest appear to be generic comic images culled from Strong's vast holdings of wood engravings to which Strong applied topical captions. Strong, ever the entrepreneur, clearly was not interested in advocating one candidate over another - the issue is full of jibes at all sides - though it should be noted that he later was a vociferous supporter of President Lincoln. Two facts suggest that the Campaign Pictorial was a money-maker: one, Strong would not have published at least 14 issues of it if it hadn't been; and two, his chief competitor in the comic publishing field, J.C. Haney, would not have issued his own campaign newspaper, the Wide-Awake Pictorial, if Strong's experience had proven that there was no market for it.




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