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Panels from the illustrated story Some of the Mysteries of Loan and Discount
, featuring Ally Sloper and (not pictured) Iky Mo; from UK magazine Judy
Alexander "Ally" Sloper is one of the earliest fictional comic strip characters. Red-nosed and blustery, an archetypal lazy schemer often found "sloping" through alleys to avoid his landlord and other creditors, he was created for the British magazine Judy, by writer and fledgling artist Charles H. Ross, and inked and later fully illustrated by his French wife Emilie de Tessier—a rare European-woman comics-artists of the time—under the pseudonym "Marie Duval" 1 (or "Marie DuVal"; sources differ). The strips, which used text narrative beneath unbordered panels, premiered in the 14 August 1867 issue of Judy, a humour-magazine rival of the UK's famous Punch.
The highly popular character was spun off into his own comic, Ally Sloper's Half Holiday in 1884. Over the next 30 years, Sloper appeared in three feature films and a wide array of merchandising from pocket watches to door stops. His popularity and influence led to his being used on occasion as a propaganda tool for the British government's policies. Sloper has also been cited as an influence on the creation of Charlie Chaplin's "little tramp" character. and its imitators.
The arrival of the First World War in 1914 saw massive paper rationing, and in 1916 the Half Holiday comic ceased production. Attempts after the war to revive Sloper proved short-lived, as Sloper was a somewhat stereotypical Victorian and Edwardian type, and did not fit into the new post-war world.
In the 2000s, Ally Sloper was revived in a theatrical production.
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