The Swiss artist Rodolphe Töpffer (1799-1846) was a pioneer of the sequential image format that we think of today as the cartoon or comic strip. His first cartoon sequence Histoire de Mr. Vieux Bois was drawn in 1827 and very quickly followed with others, to the delight of his friends. Goethe had a particular fondness for Töpffer’s drawings and there is an article on his work in the last issue of Ueber Kunst und Alterthum (no. 6, 1832), the journal Goethe edited, entitled “On the Pen-Drawings of Rodolphe Töpfer [sic].” Rare Books (Ex) 3445.392
Töpffer’s first published book Histoire de Mr. Jabot appeared in 1833 followed by Histoire de Mr. Crépin and Les Amours de Mr. Vieux Bois (or Histoire de Mr. Vieux Bois) in 1837.
Bootlegs and redrawn fakes were numerous because of the popularity of his work, in particular by the Paris publisher Aubert. The first English language edition came in 1841, entitled The Adventures of Mr. Obadiah Oldbuck produced at Woone’s Gypsography, copied from Aubert’s unauthorized French edition. Robert Cruikshank did the English language title page. In 1842, this edition was reprinted in the United States as a supplement to the magazine Brother Jonathan.
A detailed chronology of Töpffer’s life can be found at:
Several completely digital versions of the books are at: