Dusty Rhodes the popular tramp
U 14.1546-7: Golly, whatten tunket's yon guy in the mackintosh? Dusty Rhodes. Peep at his wearables. By mighty! What's he got? Jubilee mutton.
U 15.1864-6: Maimun begat Dusty Rhodes and Dusty Rhodes begat Benamor and Benamor begat Jones-Smith and Jones-Smith begat Savorgnanovich […]
“Dusty” is a nickname
traditionally given to people named “Miller” and “Rhodes” (dusty roads). Don
Gifford correctly identifies Joyce’s “Dusty Rhodes” as a cartoon tramp:
The point at issue is whether “Dusty” was an American comic-strip character from about 1900, and – if so – where did the comic strip appear?
A tramp called Dusty
Rhodes starts to appear in the American newspapers around 1891. At this stage
his exploits do not seem to be illustrated, but they are presented in short
with Mrs Dogood were a stock feature of America’s Puck magazine:
Increasingly, Dusty’s exploits came to be illustrated, by individual sketches or cartoons rather than in a strip (see, for example, Puck on 10 October 1894). Puck published a ‘library’ of comic books too. No 107, “Knights of the Road”, came out in mid 1896, advertised as “Puck’s Best Things About Dusty Rhodes & Co.”
But to find a regular source of Dusty Rhodes comic strips on this side of the Atlantic, we need to look at Chips (or in full Illustrated Chips), a comic magazine published by Harmsworth from 1890. We know from the list of magazines stocked by the Dublin newsagent Tallon that Chips was readily available to a Dublin audience in 1898.
Chips is better known for the regular comic strip by Tom Browne featuring Weary Willie and Tired Tim, who ambled their way through the comic from 1896. Dusty Rhodes in fact makes his appearance slightly earlier, in 1894. A comic strip for 7 July is entitled “Dusty Rhodes Gets a Regular Dyeing”, in which Dusty clambers into a dog kennel which has been booby-trapped with paint by two conspiratorial boys. By August 1898 we see the “guy in the mackintosh” that Joyce refers to, in a strip entitled “Rather Tall, But Strictly Untrue!”:
Dusty Rhodes doesn’t compete with the likes
of Weary Willie and Tired Tim. His own sidekicks are often the less renowned
Weary Walker and Tatterden Torne. But by the first decade of the twentieth
century they were well enough known to make occasional illustrated appearances
in the Weekly Irish Times.
Joyce's Allusions >