Cartoons from Puck
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It was not in the American nature to refuse to recognize the pregnant possibilities of such a school of satiric art. Nor did Mr. Keppler fail to grasp the vast possibilities opened to him by the freedom of American laws and American tradition—social and political.
This collection of Mr. Keppler’s cartoons is not by any means intended to summarize his work during the sixteen years in which he has drawn for Puck—or it would be treble its present size. It simply brings together such examples of his work as may now with propriety be reprinted. This is no slight volume, yet it contains, comparatively, but a narrow choice of the hundreds of cartoons Mr. Keppler has drawn for Puck. It is surprising to consider that this great output is to be credited to a man who has only attained the fullness of life; for Joseph Keppler is but fifty-five years old. He was born in Vienna, February 1st, 1838. His early life was a struggle with poverty; but it was a blithesome and cheerful-hearted struggle, almost romantically full of incident and adventure. He was with equal ease an actor and an artist; and at one time, with a very natural longing for Italy, he wandered through Styria and the Tyrol and, again, through Hungary, making vain attempts, balked by constant misfortune, to enter the land of art. In 1856 he settled down to serious study at the Académie des Beaux Arts of Vienna. Although his capacity as an artist was increasing year by year, he possessed a histrionic talent that made it hard for him to give up the stage, and as manager and actor he was connected with the theatre even for several years after his arrival in America in 1868. His first years in America were passed in the West; and in St. Louis he started two humorous weeklies, Die Vehme and a too-early Puck. The gods loved both of these ventures too well. It was in 1877 that Mr. Keppler, in association with Mr. Adolph Schwarzmann, first introduced to the American public the school of cartooning which has now become as much ours as Germany’s. This was through the medium of a German edition of Puck. The English Puck was born on March 7th, 1877.