Day #399: Impie Has Fun with Dr. Pill

"In the Land of Wonderful Dreams" dated August 31, 1913:

Transcript of Tweets by @LittleNemo1905 (JULY 20, 2021):

First, Flip has made himself king and, in contrast to his time as King of the Runts, seems to have been accepted. He has a new hut on top of a palm tree and everything… - 1/11

This leads to a neat spatial organization where the reveal of Flip's new palace/hut is reinforced by the change in panel size and shape in the final tier. - 2/11

Beside from this, the entire strip relies on the concept of blackface to try and make a gag… - 3/11

Impie, the most marginalized of characters, decides to paint Dr. Pill, one of the most privileged characters, in blackface (black dye). - 4/11

I'm not sure if Impie has any reason in mind for the act other than mischievousness, but, while Nemo, the Princess, and Flip get a rise out of it, it doesn't accomplish much else. - 5/11

Initially, I wondered if Impie was trying to give Pill the "experience" of mistreatment that he had forced Impie to endure… but that doesn't seem likely. - 6/11

Panel 9 sees that Impie hasn't stopped with Pill; he's actually drenched himself (and some of the "Zulus" in ink, as well). - 7/11

In the tradition of American Minstrelsy, there is, of course, a long tradition of black performers using blackface make-up, which resulted in them being seen as more "authentic" as a result: - 8/11

I'm not sure if any of that is actually at play here, though… it seems as though the gag is more that Pill laughs at Impie's blackface routine without knowing that he too is in blackface. - 9/11

Regardless, blackface (the practice and depiction) is rooted in racism and functions/ed as a way to demean and dehumanize America's black population. - 10/11

This is my reading of "In the Land of Wonderful Dreams" #399. What's yours? - 11/11