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June 2024
1min read

Although Thomas Mine’s thesis that the modern teenager began to evolve in the late 1930s is attractive, like all neat formulations, it has to disregard contradictory evidence. Earlier avatars of his “boy-man” are the heroes of Booth Tarkington, the protagonists of silent films starring Harold Lloyd and Richard Barthelmess, and especially the comic-strip character Harold Teen. Carl Ed’s The Love Life of Harold Teen appeared as early as 1919 and carried on until its creator’s death in 1959. The travails of seventeen-year-old Harold with his flivver and his girlfriend, Lillums Lovewell, were those familiar to Andy Hardy and Archie, although he spent more time at the soda fountain than in the schoolroom. Like many comics, Harold Teen propagated slang and fashions rapidly adopted by real teenagers.

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