a Saturday journal of satire.
|vol 1 no 1, 11 May 1867 - vol 7 no 173, 27 Aug 1870.
London, Middlesex. Ed: Arthur William à Beckett (founder); Matt Morgan (M.S.). Prop: Matt Morgan (1868). Pub: Thomas Child Hiscox. Printer: M'Gowan and Co (1870); M'Gowan and Danks (1867). Contributors: Albert à Beckett; Arthur William à Beckett; Gilbert à Beckett; Alfred Austin; Thomas Gibson Bowles; Frederick C. Clay; R.H.S. Escott; T.H.S. Escott; Francis Albert Marshall; Frank Marshall; Matt Morgan (ill.); Alfred Thompson. Names: John Brown; Queen Victoria. Size: 30cm, 12pp. Price: 2d (1870). Circulation: 50,000 (1867). Frequency: weekly (Sat). Illustration: colour-tinted centrefold cartoons, sketches, line drawings; unicolor and b/w engravings (all ill. by Morgan).
Indexing: index/vol. Departments: double acrostics, charades, notices to correspondents, at the council, the interpretor, cartoons, social commentary editorials, literary reviews and satires. Orientation: politically democratic-conservative opposing Disraeli (Ellegard).
Sources: Mitchell's; Burnand, Francis Cowley. "Mr. Punch: Some Precursors and Competitors." PMM 29 (1903): 96-105, 255-265, 390- 397; Ellegard, Alvar. "The Readership of the Periodical Press in Mid- Victorian Britain". Goteborg: Goteborgs Universitets Arsskrift 63.3 (1957); Ellis III, Ted R. "Victorian Comic Journals." British Literary Magazines. Ed. Alvin Sullivan (1984), v.3, Appendix G; Gray, Donald A. "A List of Comic Periodicals Published in Great Britain, 1800-1900, with a Prefatory Essay." VPN 15 (1972): 2-39; Savory, “Uncommon Comic Collection”; Uffelman, 1992; Douglas, Harte and O'Hara, Drawing Conclusions, 1998. p.69
Histories: Bourne, H.R. Fox. English Newspapers. vol 2. New York: Russell & Russell, 1966.; Don Vann, Comic Periodicals.; Ellis III, Ted R. "The Dramatist and the Comic Journal in England, 1830-1870". Diss. 29:2209A Northwestern, 1968; Ellis, T. R. "Burlesque dramas in the Victorian comic magazines." VPR 15 (1982): 308-31.; Garlick, Barbara, and Margaret Harris, eds. Victorian Journalism: Exotic and Domestic. Essays in Honour of P. D. Edwards. Queensland: Queensland University Press, 1998.; Graham, British Literary Periodicals, p.366.; Kemnitz, "Matt Morgan and English Cartooning".; Kent, Christopher. "The Most Sensational Journal of the Decade of Sensation: Unravelling the Mystery of The Tomahawk." Paper Delivered at RSVP conference, 2016.; Kent, Christopher. "War Cartooned/Cartoon War: Matt Morgan and the American Civil War in Fun and Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper" in VPR 36:2 (Summer 2003): 153-181.; Nineteenth-Century Serials Edition. Eds.Laurel Brake and Mark Turner, 2005-2007, http://www.ncse.ac.uk/headnotes/ttw.html#d88e2370.; Stedman, Jane W. W. S. Gilbert: A Classic Victorian and his Theatre. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1996.
|Comments: Motto: "Invitat culpam qui peccatum proeterit".
"If anybody wants to know our opinions, we may say generally that we are bitter enemies of the whole tribe of Shams, and as for particular applications of them, we mean to scalp - Any medicine man who persists in imposing upon us a Reform Bill which professes to do one thing, but really does another. Any demagogues who bring disgrace on the cause of the people by using it for the promotion of their own small personal notoriety. Any Home Secretary who goes out on the war-path, and then runs away. Any play-wright who either invents or translates stale and unprofitable nonsense. Anybody who contradicts us. And, in fact, everybody who invades our hunting-grounds with the pale-face's weapons of deceit and fraud...Those who don't like our principles need not buy our paper. Those who do buy it may very possibly get scalped themselves, but then they will always have the satisfactions of finding that some of their enemies, or even some of their friends, are visited with the same fate" (Our Preliminary War-Whoop 1:1, p.6).
The Tomahawk "started in 1870 by Arthur W. Beckett, assisted by his elder brother Gilbert Beckett, one of the brightest, cleverest, and most originally humorous of writers, with just a spice of cynicism in his nature; Frank Marshall, who was a clever young amateur in light literature and drama, Alfred Thompson (who afterwards started 'The Mask', Frederick Clay (the composer), and 'Tommy' Bowles, now T.G. Bowles, M.P., who quitted The Tomahawk in order to 'run' Vanity Fair, of which, with the aid of the inimitable and eccentric Bohemian of Bohemians, Carlo Pellegrini for cartoonist, he soon made a great success. But Matt Morgan was the only artist on the Tomahawk. His cartoons in colour were decidedly striking, and, when quite original in design, were rather overladen with details. Having occasion, however, to draw political personages, British Lions, Britannias, and such like stock-in-trade figures, he made no secret of the fact that he went to Tenniel's pictures for his models, and, as he said to me, 'You couldn't find better anywhere.' This was absolutely true" (Burnand 256).
The Tomahawk "commenced its existence in 1867, price twopence... [Matt Morgan's novelty]...consisted in the use of 'tints' for the cartoon. These were sometimes green, sometimes pink, sometimes black and yellow, sometimes more black than yellow, or more yellow than black, an atrabilious effect to the 'jaundiced eye, 'but all of them, as drawings, more or less clever; for Matt Morgan had, within certain narrow limits, a spark of true genius.... Only once, I fancy, in the cartoon for November 14th (1868), did The Tomahawk hark back to its less fortunate treatment of political and social subjects. I have seen it up to June 26th, 1869. In the arrangement of its letterpress it could scarcely be described as closely modelled on Punch, and the fact that it had no small 'cuts', and that its cartoon was, as a rule, either a double or even treble one, tinted or coloured, sufficiently differentiated it from Punch when displayed on a bookstall" (Burnand, pp.391-4).
"One special issue is called The Sparrowhawk. Main illustrator, Matt Morgan, double-sized colour cartoons, many of which tend toward the vicious and macabre, Dore-like with frequent use of skeletons. Interesting and well-written. Especially good mock drama" (Savory 99).
"An interesting, relatively trenchant journal, well-written, well-illustrated, and in its first issues, more contentious than most similarly well-produced journals" (Gray 35).
Combines "a good deal of genuine amusement with a zealous effort at social reform." It was "a conservative organ, in opposition to Disraeli" (Graham 366).
"The Tomahawk, is well written and successfully combines features of both Punch and the Owl" (Ellis).
Fox Bourne calls it "a formidable rival to Punch".
This periodical appealed to a middle class public (Ellegard).
"Both Tomahawk in the sixties and London Figaro in the seventies published their own series of burlesque sketches in competition with Punch and Fun. Tomahawk's sketches caricatured audience responses in the manner of Punch, but they carried Burnand's technique a step further and excluded completely any burlesque of the play itself. Tomahawk's refinements in technique are illustrated in a passage from the 'second act' of 'Wide Awake (A Little Drama of Real Life, in Three Acts)'. The satire is directed at naive acceptance of Robertson's plays as representations of 'real life'. Subtleties in theme and style are proof of the advances in the comic magazine's burlesque drama" (Ellis, 14:4 winter 1982, p.141).
The journal was "an organ of embattled gentlemanliness" (Garlick and Harris p.76) and attacked the Queen, the Prince of Wales, and other public institutions during its first few issues. It was the first paper to openly discuss the Queen's relationship with John Brown, after which it was charged with disloyalty and treason by other papers (Garlick and Harris p.81).
Its success made its chief rival, Punch, uneasy (Garlick and Harris p.76).
The paper was strongly influenced by The Book of Snobs by William Thackeray--several of the writers sought to emulate his work in their submissions (Garlick and Harris p.83).
Kemnitz provides a table of figures which demonstrates that the cartoons published in Tomahawk focused on "Social Issues", "Foreign Affairs", and "Ireland" far more than rival publications like Fun, Punch, Judy, and Will-o'-the-Wisp, and far less on "Politics" than these others (9). He asserts that "Morgan's Tomahawk cartoons are important because they alone in the 1860's mark a major departure from cartooning conventions" (32).
"A more sensational rival to Punch which flourished briefly thanks largely to Morgan's melodramatic, moralizing cartoons on social and political issues, most controversially his cartoons criticizing Queen Victoria and the Prince of Wales...The full signature 'Matt Morgan' with which he had insisted on signing his controversial Tomahawk cartoons the first English cartoonist to do so...Morgan's recent success as Tomahawk's cartoonist had depended on a large scale, heavily atmospheric style that invoked an apocalyptic mood of imminent moral collapse" (Kent).
In a paper delivered at the RSVP conference in 2016, Chris Kent clarifies how the newspaper ended. After taking over the paper's proprietorship in 1868, Matt Morgan's financial difficulties and pressure from his creditors hindered his ability to manage the publication. After fleeing to Spain to escape his debts and being imprisoned for these debts, Morgan sold the paper. An anonymous illustrator took over, but the paper never regained its form, eventually ending in 1870.
Location: partial runs: LO/N-1 A 1:1-6:164 (11 May 1867-25 Jun 1870), CA/U-1 A nos 13-97 (1867-1869 imp); QZ/P-1 vols 1-6 (1867-1870); N.America: see Fulton and ULS 3; The full text is available on CENGAGE from Gale; full text available at NCSE.