The strip can be read HERE.
| Masereel, La Grande Guerre par les artistes, 1914-15|
| Masereel by himself, 1909|
| “Enough!” Masereel front page of les tablettes, 1916-19|
| “Among accomplices.” Daily editorial cartoon by Masereel, brush-drawing on front page of La feuille, 1917-20|
| “Cinema–Iron–Fire–Blood–Emotion.” Another brush-drawn editorial for La feuille, 1917-20|
| Captain Jack, “The Embarkation” — detail of full-page woodcut in the Shot & Shell series, Vol. 1, 1868|
“About 1907 I read my first novel, it was a Tip Top, cost me a penny. Novels were scarce, so I bought Novels that had been read and exchanged. A fellow who’s father owned a saloon, or a fellow who’s father had the will power to pass a Saloon, with it’s inviting swinging doors, free lunch etc and could give his Son a nickel was an exception. My Dad was neither of the two, so I got my penny by running errands for Ma and charging an extra penny on some article purchased. A brand new Tip Top Weekly sold for 5 cents, some boys read ’em before they went home, sat on some handy door step and in two hours returned the New novel for either 3 cents cash or took 3 older Novels in exchange. The 3 older Novels after being read were exchanged for 1/2 cent each.
The new Novel was sold, exchanged & resold, finally the bookstore man socked it with a big rubber Name stamp on the picture, inside on the first page of reading etc, if he felt playful he gave it a couple more stamps for good luck. Every boy in our neighbourhood read Novels swapped and sold ’em to each other, so I too got to be a Novel reader. No one gave a thought about saving them, they could be seen all over on display at Newsstands, Railroad Stations, Book Stores, candy Stores etc.
Cash registers were very rare in them days and when you forked over your Indian head for a book the storekeeper dropped it thru a hole in the counter, it fell into a wooden drawer underneath, you could tell by the sound when it dropped there wasn’t many others inside to keep it company.
One thing that excited my curiosity was when some young maiden came in the bookstore, whispered in the prop’s ear, blushed all over, seemed nervous, then quickly handing him the few greasy coppers, snatched, yes snatched the book and literally ran out with it. The proprietor told me she wanted a sexy love story, that the gals were nerts over ’em and he sold ’em like hot cakes.
Of course all the barber shops had the Police Gazette every week and a fellow who got his lunch hooks on one of ’em did not mind whether he was next or not, as the pictures of the gals in tights did then what Murine does for the eyes today.” — J.E. Fisher
| Newsstand under the “Third Avenue El” — the elevated railway in New York City, 1902|
“Despise not ‘Spring Heeled Jack’ my friendNor let the dustbin be its end.Some epicure may give you goldIf this edition should be old;So be advised, your granddad’s lumbersMay still contain some penny numbers.” 
| 1 Franklin’s Miscellany, 27 January 1838|
“The above sketch, by our artist, will serve to give our readers a tolerable correct notion of the individual who is called the Spring Jack, more properly a devil, and very inappropriately a gentleman. He is shown taking flight over a house, which he is said to do with the ease of a kitten over a ball of worsted; but this he could not perform without the aid of his boots, which are made with an ingenuity worthy a better object – having powerful springs attached thereto, which can be sprung at pleasure by the wearer. One freak, amongst the thousand that are reported of him, is worthy of record. Entering a public-house on Peckham Rye, he made his way into a parlour, where the only light afforded was from the fire: he called loudly for a pot of ale, which, being brought to him by the landlord, was placed upon the table. To the landlord’s horror and consternation, he saw his customer take up his pewter, which, so soon as he touched, melted through his fingers, and left the ale in a congealed round mass in his hands. “Holla,” Boniface exclaimed, “Who the devil are you?” “The devil, at your service,” replied Spring Jack knowing at the ale as though it had been a German sausage, “car’nt you give us something to eat besides this?” “Not I,” said Boniface, resolutely, “the devil a bit you shall have here, though the cupboard was full.” “Ah, the cupboard! so! so!” laughed Jack, and turning towards a cupboard in the corner, he placed his nose to the key-hole, and gave such a sniff, Boniface vows there has been a draught there ever since. “Ah, ah!” and Jack laughed outright, “I smell pigeon-pie and pickled sprats; open the cupboard, my boy.” “I’ll see you – first,” and Boniface swore a terrible oath. “I shall book that when I go below,” chuckled Jack, and he pointed significantly at the floor. “Well, old boy, there are more ways of boring a hole than with a gimlet,” then placing his fist against the old oaken cupboard-door, smoke arose, and screwing his fist about a little, it went through like a red hot poker. Jack, seizing the viands within, despatched them with a twinkle, remarking, “He always took a Welsh rare-bit after lunch,” which he made by breaking up some clay pipes into small pieces, and frying them in his hand over the fire. After disposing of this singular meal, he cracked the landlord’s head by breaking the brown pie-dish over it, and disappeared up the chimney. What disposes us most to believe in this strange history is, the still more surprising fact, that Boniface has ever since punctually attended the neighbouring church, and the still more extraordinary circumstance that, since the time the occurrence is reported to have occurred, he has filled his pots and given good measure.”
|2 Franklin’s Miscellany, masthead|
“Douglas Jerrold edited this one; (Punch in London) first published on January 14, 1832, by J. Duncombe of 19 Little Queen Street, Holborn. A pocket-sized penny weekly, it was not only the first magazine to use the popular puppet as a title, but the April 28 issue was an all pictorial one. The ‘truly ludicrous cuts’ were by C.J. Grant, and were used to help sell Duncombe’s new venture, The Original Comic Magazine. This sixpenny weekly on tinted paper was described by Jerrold as a forthcoming novelty, and excited the comment ‘How this is to pay, even at this period, so remarkable for plenty of paper and print for a penny, gives us wonder as great as our content.’ Grant’s cartoons were in the technique of Thomas Hood with pictorial puns, but showed a common touch. ‘Making a Deep Impression’ is a slapstick scene of a top-hatted swell flopping inside a puddle of mud; ‘Every Man to his Post’ is a bottle-waving drunk clutching a hitching-post. Thackeray called Grant’s drawings ‘outrageous caricatures, squinting eyes, wooden legs, and pimpled noses, forming the chief points of fun.’ but in Grant’s lively London line can be seen the beginnings of British comic paper art. Grant described himself as A.A.E. (author, artist, editor) on the byline to Every Body’s Album and Caricature Magazine, a fortnightly broadside which he drew for the lithographic publisher J. Kendrick of 54 Leicester Square, from January 1st 1834. Grant added that he was the ‘originator of Morden and Aitken’s Sporting Ideas, the (original) Caricaturist, a Monthly Show-up, Comic Songs, Tregear’s Flight of Humour, Frontispieces to the Penny Magazine, etc., Comic Almanac, Emigration, and upward of four hundred of the most popular caricatures of the day.’ One claim to fame he seems to have overlooked is as a founder of the comic strip form: ‘My Brother,’ a six-panel set with rhyming captions, began in No. 36 (July 13th, 1835) and was concluded in six more panels in No. 37.”
|3 The Penny Satirist, 10 March 1838|
“In a pamphlet published at the time, we have preserved for us a portrait of the “ghost,” as he appeared in this instance, and the representation even, much less the reality, is quite enough to upset the nerves of any ordinary-minded person. He is depicted as clad in all the orthodox details of a satanic outfit, horns, tail, etc., with fearful claws on both hands and feet, the latter additionally armed with large hooks, attached to the heels, whilst his countenance puts any medieval conception of the Evil One quite to the blush. No wonder, then, the ladies are shown as suffering an extremity of terror, with their mouths extended to their utmost capacity, presumably screaming.”
|4 Gossip in the First Decade of Victoria’s Reign|
|5 Illustrated Police News, 1884|
|6 Jemmy Catnatch stock woodcut|
“Witches and warlocks were very real beings to many of them, and Satan was supposed to take an active personal interest in the business of blighting crops, spoiling brews of beer and cider, turning milk sour, laming and killing cattle, and various other misdeeds credited to unfortunate persons whose outward marks of evil were all too often only age, poverty and lonely wretchedness.”
“threw off his outer garment, and, applying the lighted candle to his breast, presented a most hideous and frightful appearance, and vomited forth a quantity of blue and white flame from his mouth, and his eyes resembled red balls of fire. From the hasty glance which her fright enabled her to get at his person, she observed that he wore a large helmet, and his dress, which appeared to fit him very tight, seemed to her to resemble white oil-skin. Without uttering a sentence he darted at her, and catching her partly by the dress, and the back part of her neck, placed her head under one of his arms, and commenced tearing her gown with his claws, which she was certain were of some metallic substance. She screamed out as loud as she could for assistance, and by considerable exertion got away from him, and ran towards the house to get in. Her assailant, however, followed her, and caught her on the steps leading to the hall door, when he again used considerable violence, tore her neck and arms with his claws, as well as a quantity of hair from her head; but she was at length rescued from his grasp by one of her sisters.”
|7 Spring-heel’d Jack: the Terror of London, London: NPC, 1863|
“It is now a little over a quarter of a century since the inhabitants of London and its suburbs were kept in a continual state of terror by a man who, under various disguises, and in different shapes and forms, would suddenly appear before the unsuspecting pedestrian, and, after having nearly frightened the traveller out of his or her senses, would as suddenly disappear, with terrific bounds, from his side, leaving for a time the impression upon his affrighted victim that his Satanic Majesty had paid a visit to the earth, and especially favoured them with his presence.”
“It was at this time that the terror he caused was at its height – when the husband, on his return home, cast suspicious glances behind him, and clutched nervously at his walking-stick; and the wife waited anxiously, with barred door, her husband’s return, fearful even to open it to his well-known knock, lest it should be Spring-heeled Jack – that the worthy one evening entered a public-house in the neighbourhood of the Liverpool-road, Islington.
He was tall and well formed, which even the large dark Spanish cloak he wore did not disguise.”
“The man dropped a coin on to the floor, and stooped as if to pick it up, but as he did so he thrust a hideous mask over his face.
Then springing up, and turning to the officer, at the same time flinging back the large folds of his cloak, and revealing it’s white lining, he exclaimed –
“Boaster! I am Spring-heeled Jack!”
With a cry of terror the officer sprang backwards onto the steps which led up to the house.
“Ha! ha! ha!” laughed Jack. “Follow me if you can – take me if you dare!”
With a terrific bound he sprang up and over the head of the officer right into the centre of the roadway.
Here he paused, and gave vent to a loud laugh, then bounded back again to the officer’s side.
“Why don’t you do your duty?” he exclaimed, leaping onto the policeman’s shoulders and forcing his hat over his eyes.
Then with another laugh he bounded across the road as the men who had partaken of his treat rushed from the house towards him.
“I’ll have a shy for him,” exclaimed the man who had made no secret of his nervousness.
“Come on, my friend,” cried Jack. “You are what I thought, after all – the bravest of the lot.”
The man ran towards him, and even succeeded in catching hold of his cloak.
But he was unable to retain it, for with a spring Jack bounded away over a hedge into the field beyond, and was lost to view, while in the centre of the road stood the officer, his battered hat in one hand, shouting at the top of his voice, till those who had been with him at the bar were out of sight, and he was left alone.
“Stop him! – stop him! Don’t be frightened! Don’t let him get away! Stop him! – stop him!”
“That’s your duty my friend; but you are such a coward,” exclaimed a voice behind him.
The officer turned, uttered a cry, and fled at the top of his speed, whilst the loud laughter of Spring-heeled Jack rang out on the night air.”
“On the threshold of the doorway stood an object that might well have appalled a stouter heart than Bill’s – a form that would have shaken more powerful nerves than those which had already been weakened by drink, as were the now trembling and affrighted bully’s.
It was that of a tall form, whose head and body glowed with a blue, phosphorescent fire, from the back of which hung, in graceful folds, a long striped cloak, like a tiger skin.
It stood with its arms extended thus throwing the cloak open in front, and revealing the fore part of the figure, over which the blue flames played, and appeared to curl upwards to the crown of the head.
“Mer–mer–mercy, Mr. Devil!” cried the kneeling man, still keeping his hands pressed over his eyes, to shut out the horrible form which now had the effect of completely sobering him.
The figure took a step towards him, extending its arms still wider, then paused.
“Mortal,” it said.”
|8 The Entr’acte Annual, 1876|
“Mr. George Conquest was hopping about thoughtfully in his favourite frog attitude, on the Surrey side of the river. Now and then he stood on his head, or dived down into a coal-cellar, coming up again through a chimney, and leaping from a roof on to a lamp-post (…) jumping from the electric telegraph wire, on which he had been swinging, up on to the sky-light of the theatre, he descended safely to the stage, placed himself on a trap, and shot up, through the floor, into Mr. Paul Merritt’s private room.”
|9 The Era Almanack, 1877|
“Take a witches’ cauldron and set it over a blue fire; strangle a disreputable junior partner of a money-lender and throw into the pot; hang the other money-lender for murdering his colleague and throw him in likewise; half drown a virtuous young married lady and in with her; beat a small clever child in black stockings very hard to make her tender, and pop her in; add a cup of coffee well poisoned; flavour with stolen will, a Chubb burglar-proof safe, several forgeries (…) a Gladstone bag, a small quantity of blood, a pinch of gunpowder, and any amount of vigorous acting, and then you have your bouillabaisse – Mankind.”
“Grecian Theatre, City-Road. Sole Proprietor, Mr. B.O. Conquest. Triumphant success of "Spring-Heel’d Jack" On Monday and during the week (Wednesday and Thursday excepted) the performances will commence with SPRING-HEEL’D JACK; or, A Felon’s Wrongs, in three acts, written by Mr. G. Conquest.”
“Read ‘Spring-Heeled Jack: The Terror of London’ — Whereas, a little over a quarter century ago, a person known to the police as Spring-Heeled Jack did frighten and cause the death of several persons, the daring deeds and startling adventures of this wonderful man will be published in Weekly Numbers, with Illustrations every week of his doings.”
“Spring-Heeled Jack will, in type, perform over again his midnight freaks and daring adventures. With Illustrations Every Week of his Doings.”
|10 Illustrated Police News, 1884|
“That theatrical amusements have a strong hold upon the minds of large masses of the population of London was exemplified here on Whit Monday, in a very marked manner, when, though it might have been thought that town-pent folks seeking pleasure would all have been drawn away to green fields and fresh air, this place was packed with people as though they had been squeezed together by some powerful compressing machine. So great was the heat that the majority of the male occupants of the pit and gallery divested themselves of their upper outer garments, and sat at their ease in their shirt-sleeves to see the play. The auditors, however, showed no signs of being rendered languid or listless; on the contrary they were often immensely excited, and applauded the performances with deafening cries of bravo and violent clapping of the hands. One portion of the entertainment which afforded so much delight to the audience consisted of a new piece, in four parts, founded on a recently published narrative of the exploits of Spring-Heeled Jack, the Terror of London. The mysterious individual, whose cognomen supplies the title of the play, is exhibited as a generous fellow, who is always appearing opportunely like a good genius, or knight of the old romances, to succour the distressed. He frightens and defeats Sir Richard Clavering (Mr. C. Lerigo), who cruelly wrongs Jessie Belton (Miss Vincent), and persecutes Ellen Folder (Miss Sanders). One of his most daring and noble acts is that of leaping into the river to save the last-named maiden when she attempts to drown herself. This strange but benevolent being also renders useful service to Jane Slater (Miss McEwan) and her husband James Slater (Mr. Harmer), who finds a bitter enemy in Ralph Grasper (Mr. Doyne). The apparition scares a party of body-snatchers in a churchyard, startles the same group when they are crawling over a housetop in the character of burglars, and eventually hunts down the scoundrels Clavering and Grasper, facilitates the liberation of Slater from prison, and fills the hearts of his lady clients with wonder, joy, and gratitude.”
“I have a suspicion that, whether we confess it to ourselves or others, my otherwise gentle readers, like myself, have a special fondness for dabbling in crime stories both printed or play acted. Also that we are especially moved by the lives and adventures of the Knights of the Road, or “High Toby Merchants,” as they were wont to be called. And even the more romantic housebreakers, or crib-crackers, from Jack Sheppard downwards, we study with especial interest.”“Moreover, that species of murderers and desperadoes known as Burkers, who gleefully slew unoffending citizens for the sake of selling their corpses to surgeons for anatomical vivisection, have also thrilled us, have they not? Far into the night have we panted with secret excitement as the Bow Street Runners gained nearer and nearer on their prey, or were spoofed from time to time by such great criminal heroes as the aforesaid Jack or his terrible traitorous companion, Jonathan Wild. And with what smothered joy have we read of such still more romantic criers of “Stand and deliver !” and “Your money or your life!” as Claude Duval, Paul Clifford, Tom King, Dick Turpin, Nick Nevison, the Golden Farmer, Jerry Abershaw, George Barrington, Old Mop, Sixteen String Jack, Springheel Jack, Scarlet Dick, and so on and so forth.”
|11 Boy’s Herald, 1877|
“As he looked around, he saw almost every phase of vice and profligacy represented. At the window yonder, some over-dressed young noodle, who had on lavender kid gloves, and smoked a cigar, was throwing down hot half-pence for the rabble below to scramble for, after the fashion of thee young bloods in the days of the Regent, when such senseless absurdities were taken for wit. The fashion has exploded now; our knockers and bell-pulls are unmolested; Spring-Heeled Jack has jumped clean out of our recollection; the noble marquis, who was the king of practical jokers, and in whose jokes there existed a certain germ of humour which atoned for their attendant blackguardism, is dead; and his poor imitators, whose name is legion, and who had all the blackguardism without any of the fun, have passed away and are forgotten, and we young men are now much wiser, and happier, and enjoy ourselves much more reasonably, if we are not in our hearts more virtuous than our fathers were.”
| 12 Advert for Charles Fox-issued Spring Heeled Jack. The Terror of London — “Splendidly Illustrated.”|
“To return, however, to our hero.His dress was most striking.It consisted of a tight-fitting garment, which covered him from his head to his feet.This garment was of a blood-red colour.One foot was encased in a high-heeled pointed shoe, while the other was hidden in a peculiar affair, something like a cow’s hoof, in imitation, no doubt, of the “cloven-hoof” of Satan.It was generally supposed that the “springing” mechanism was contained in that hoof.He wore a very small black cap upon his head, in which was fastened one bright crimson feather.The upper part of his face was covered by black domino.When not in action the whole was concealed by an enormous black cloak, with one hood, and which literally covered him from head to foot.He did not always confine himself to this dress though, for sometimes he would place the head of an animal, constructed out of paper and plaster, over his own, and make changes in his attire.”
|13 Spring-Heeled Jack, The Terror of London, No. 39, Charles Fox|
“The night was terrible, for a storm was raging over London. The wind was rushing with wild roars and shrieks along the streets, chimney pots were being hurled down upon the heads of the passers-by. On the river the shipping was being tossed and flung about, so that the vessels crashed against one another, and small boats were crushed into wreckage against the piers. The lightning flashed and the thunder boomed. But the roar of heaven’s artillery did not drown out the cries which rang out shrilly from a house in Wedge-street in the Mint.The ominous deadly cries – “Help! murder ! help!”
“Daring miscreant!” exclaimed Ralph, as he rushed towards him, “this moment will I save the hangman his trouble! Thus do I send you to your final account, and avenge myself for the slur you have cast on my name. Die, monster, – die!Sir Roland folded his arms.“Strike me, a wounded, helpless man!” he said, “such a thrust would do your sword honour.”Ralph stopped half-way, and lowered the point of his rapier to the ground.“No,” he said, “I thought I had rid the world of you; but I will not harm you now. I will find other means. Your accomplice, Bill Blarney, is in prison, and you shall follow him. Sir Roland, you are my prisoner!”“And I surrender,” Sir Roland replied, calmly, “the world shall hear my story and yours. How proud then will you be of your name?”Ralph bit his underlip until a thin streak of blood ran down his chin.”
“But as he spoke a terrific flash of lightning seemed to rend the heavens, and cast a lurid gleam over the dreary time-stained buildings at the rear of the Three Mariners, and a clap of thunder boomed forth enough to shake the place to its foundations.And as they stood awe-stricken in that interval of light they beheld a terrible thing.Leaping high in the air, springing over the summit of a stack of chimneys, was a form as of Satan, a bat-like body, in red tight-fitting garments, with wide wings, and a devil’s face , sulphurous flame and smoke issuing from his mouth.He leaped almost into the window where they stood spellbound.But the light was gone then – darkness had fallen heavily, and they could only see his shadow form for an instant, before, with a satanic laugh and a fresh emission of flame, he disappeared with a bound, which took him clear across the leads into the street.”
“A loud and discordant laugh was heard without, and, in the midst of a terrific flash of lightning, there was a crashing of wood and glass, and an awful figure sprang into the room.It was the form of Satan.His body was attired in a red tight-fitting garment; his face was strange and horrible; his mouth wide, with fang-like teeth; horns grew from his forehead, and one foot was that of an animal with a cloven hoof.As he gazed at the assassin with eyes which glowed like living coals, sulphurous flame and smoke was vomited from his mouth.”
“Fear not Daisy Leigh! He whom you saw this night is your friend. He arrived to late to save your father’s life. But he will aid you to avenge his death. Use the gold he leaves and go to the address he gives, or you will hear no more of your friend “Spring-Heeled Jack.”
|14 Spring-Heeled Jack, The Terror of London No. 45, Charles Fox|
|15 Funny Folks, October 26, 1878|
|16 Spring Heel Jack; or, The Masked Mystery of the Tower, 1884|
|17 The Human Bat, 1899|
|18 The Human Bat, 1899 advert|
|19 Illustrated Chips, September 9, 1899|
|20 Cinemundial, 1940|
“Spring-heeled Jack was picked up by the Flying Saucer magazines and the alien was grafted to his image of prankster, devil, ghost and superhero.”
|21 Pérák, the Spring Man of Prague, 1948|
|22 Springheeled Jack, 2003 cover by Simon Bisley (UK)|