Hugo Hercules, the world's first comic superhero | Bleader

Monday, January 28, 2008

Hugo Hercules, the world's first comic superhero

Posted By on 01.28.08 at 01:59 PM

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The late illustrator and painter W.H.D. Koerner, who got his start as an illustrator for the Chicago Tribune, is in the news these days as the maker of George W. Bush's favorite painting, "A Charge to Keep."Less well known about Koerner is that he's the creator of what's allegedly the first superhero comic, "Hugo Hercules," which ran in the Trib from 1902 to 1903. Hugo was a man of few words, particularly "Just as easy," with a particular gift for aiding Chicagoans with the vagaries of transportation from trolley cars to ice boating. (Barnacle Press has the full series.) If you wanted me to do a close reading, I'd say, offhand, that he was addressing the public's fear of the city and the newfangled transportation that helps us navigate it, making him more relevant today than ever. Hugo! The CTA needs you!

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