Punk’n Patches


Con­ceived by Royce G. Tig­gles, Punk’n Patch­es was a full page com­ic print­ed in Minu­tiæ from 1892 to 1938. The ser­i­al fea­tured the exploits of plucky child fac­to­ry work­er Punk’n Patch­es and his moth­er Mama and was cre­at­ed as an affront to the Indus­tri­al Rev­o­lu­tion. How­ev­er, as many fac­to­ry own­ers wrote in their sup­port and admi­ra­tion of the com­ic, Minu­tiæ’s cre­ator Alvin Hardridge pres­sured Tig­gles to incor­po­rate real fac­to­ry names in return for adver­tis­ing mon­ey. This was one of the ear­li­est known instances of prod­uct placement.

Over time, Tig­gles grew increas­ing­ly frus­trat­ed at Hardridge’s demands and involve­ment in the strip, and in 1901 left for a peri­od of only six months. Tig­gles quick­ly returned after learn­ing that the writ­ing, draw­ing and ink­ing of the com­ic was being done by a small army of child work­ers. The youths, nick­named the Mar­velous Min­is, worked sev­en­ty hours a week in the attic of the Minu­tiæ Glue Smelter­haus, where the nev­er end­ing noise and pun­gent fumes intox­i­cat­ed their grow­ing brains. Upon Tig­gles’ return the Mar­velous Min­is found them­selves unem­ployed. The intre­pid chil­dren used what lit­tle sav­ings they had to hitch a train back East and set up shop on Fifth Avenue.

The Mar­velous Min­is start­ed out small, yet soon grew the three pan­el com­ic for­mat to a mul­ti-paged string-bound book con­tain­ing a uni­verse filled with tales of extra­or­di­nary chil­dren. The leader, Stan­ley, became known for his wild­ly imag­i­na­tive super­heroes includ­ing Stick­y­boy, who had the abil­i­ty to clutch onto a par­ent and not let go. Even­tu­al­ly, Stan­ley changed his name to Stan Lee (not hav­ing a sur­name to begin with on account of his orphani­giza­tion) and, yes, that is the very same Stan Lee who cre­at­ed your favorite com­ic book char­ac­ters such as Spi­der-man and Friends.

So, when you read a Mar­vel com­ic book, think of the ben­e­fit of Minu­tiæ’s proud her­itage and his­to­ry of child labor when it was legal and not ever since, we swear. ♦