Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Don Marquis created archy and mehitabel

It is the birthday of humorist Don Marquis (1878), who created archy and mehitabel, the cockroach with the soul of a free verse poet and his alley cat sidekick. The social commentary duo started as a newspaper column in The New York Evening Sun in 1916 and eventually were presented in numerous books, illustrated by George Herriman, who illustrated the cartoon Krazy Kat for Hearst newspapers. The archy and mehitabel series was part of popular culture during the rest of the teens and 1920s. Marquis claimed that he left paper in his typewriter at night and archy jumped on the keys to write his messages. He couldn’t operated the shift key so everything he wrote was in lowercase. Below is an example. Archy seems to have anticipated texting.

listen to me there have
been some doings here since last
i wrote there has been a battle
behind that rusty typewriter cover
in the corner
you remember freddy the rat well
freddy is no more but
he died game the other
day a stranger with a lot of
legs came into our
little circle a tough looking kid
he was with a bad eye

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