Verbeek's Botanies

Sunday Press has announced the availability of their new collection reprinting in full colour the whole run of  Gustave Verbeek’s The Upside-Downs of Lady Lovekins and Old Man Muffaroo, the late Terrors of the Tiny Tads, as well the first complete collection of The Loony Lyrics of Lulu. While writing an introduction for this last strip I collected more material on Verbeek’s connections to Nonsense literature than could fit the pages of the book, so I’ll be posting some of my notes here in the coming weeks.

The Terrors of the Tiny Tads ran in the New York Herald for several years and its style, both graphic and narrative, changed considerably. The more obviously nonsense-influenced strips tend to be the early ones, which are rougher in appearance and tell more violent stories.

The series is famous for its hybrid animals, but several episodes included vegetable beings in the tradition of Edward Lear’s “Botanies.” The June 23, 1907 episode, for instance, presents a series of predator-flowers that are probably at least in part based on Lear’s “Tigerlilia Terribilis” and “Barkia Howlalowdia” (click to read the whole strip):



Verbeek’s Dandelioness, which does not really look particularly ferocious, will reappear in the October 3, 1909 strip in a much less violent context:


Sometimes the vegetable nature of the hybrids is dominant, as in the examples above, sometimes the animal part is the stronger and the creatures can move, and often become dangerous, as in this December 1, 1907 strip:


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