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Sloper, Ally. Ally Sloper was created by Charles H. Ross and appeared in hundreds of comic strips from 1867 to 1915, beginning with “Some of the Mysteries of the ‘Loan and Discount’” (Judy; or the London Serio-Comic Journal, August 14, 1867).
In Victorian slang an “‘alley sloper” was someone who avoided paying the rent by “sloping” down the alley when the landlord came to collect the rent. Ross’ Ally Sloper became the quintessential Victorian heroic scoundrel, someone who represented the triumph of the average man over wealthy, dim hypocrites. Sloper is jolly, lazy, and dissolute, clever, a gambler, a cheat, and a swindler. He is lecherous, he puts far more energy into crooked schemes than into finding honest work, and he ignores his family. His best friend and partner in crime is “Ikey Mo,” a.k.a. Isaac Moses, one of the first Jewish stereotypes in British comics.
After the mid-1880s Sloper became cleaner and slightly more respectable, with the humor of the comic strip deriving from the incongruity of Ally Sloper in middle-class surroundings rather than from Sloper’s newest scheme. He also becomes a more cunning and successful crook. He sells rotten oysters on Brighton Beach. He outwits the police through the use of obscure laws. He argues with the French politician Georges Boulanger. Though a crook, Sloper is a patriot, and during the Boer War he primarily swindles foreigners rather than the English.
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