by Tim Greer
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 MinutiæÂ 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. ♦