Fluffy Ruffles was a newspaper comic strip?—?“the first continued cartoon story,” according to Ernest Watson in his 1946 book, “40 Illustrators and How They Work.” The illustrator was Wallace Morgan, who would later sketch battlefields in World War I. He drew Fluffy Ruffles for the New York Herald. Carolyn Wells, a poet and writer, came up with the idea for the strip and created Fluffy’s story in light verse. The illustrations and verse took up a full page in the Herald’s Sunday magazine section, starting roughly in April 1907.

She was all the rage in 1907–1908. Young women wanted to dress like her, musicians of the day composed songs about her and there was even a Broadway musical about her adventures.

Why did Fluffy Ruffles capture the popular imagination at the beginning of the 20th century? The glory days of newspaper journalism in the last century are studded with all kinds of manufactured hoopla, from wars to Wingo.

But Fluffy’s story captivated readers, too, especially young women entering the workforce: Poor Fluffy discovers that her inheritance has fallen through. Each week she tries her hand at something different: dance instructor, sales girl in a millinery shop, child care, even teaching bridge. But all of her efforts fail in the same way: a flock of men gather to ogle, chat and flirt, making it impossible for her to do her job. She is either dismissed by her overwhelmed employer, or resigns in frustration.

55 strips various



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