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Cupid Gets Some New Dope Powers

“Yo! You down wit’ dis? Listen up, I hear Cupid got some new dope powers…” Man, I love classic cartoon posters, but this one from 1917 is not only ugly, unappealing and racist (click image at left to enlarge), but it seemingly anticipates hip-hop slang from 90 years into the future. The word “dope” on this one-sheet poster is indeed a drug reference: for a new love potion – which Cupid in the cartoon uses to create mischief. The word “Powers” is not part of the film’s title, its the name of the series (A Pat “Powers Cartoon Comedy”). The text is so poorly laid out it, it can be read the wrong way (at least, by me). I found this poster while browsing at, they are selling this repro for $19.99 – the original would be worth thousands. For the record, Pat Sullivan’s Cupid Gets Some New Dope (1917) features his character Sammy Jonsin as “Cupid”. Two years later, Sullivan would find lasting success with the creation of Felix the Cat.

  • David Gerstein sent us the copyright synopsis for this cartoon (Warning: dated language):

  • Thank goodness it was a split reel! I’m not sure anybody would have wanted to sit thru that one for a full reel!

    Yes the “dated” language is something! Lucky for us that Pat Sullivan switched to Felix two years later. Also, lucky for us, he didn’t animate Felix!

  • Huck Finn

    I, too, find the “cracker” caricatures in the poster insensitive and racist. The enlarged feet; the typical “American Gothic” approach of the times (talk about painting with a broad brush, whew!) You’ve come a long way baby!

  • His powers are dope
    His powers are fly
    He’s hipper than you
    He’s fresher than I

  • Niki

    Honestly I don’t mind much racist caricature, the husband is actually has a a bit of an adorable figure. I do hate how they made the women fat all the time though.

  • Mac

    So was Sammie Jonsin always naked in his cartoons or was just when he was playing cupid? The ending is pretty lame with Sammy (Sammie is spelt two different ways in the same synopsis!) waking up and finding it was all a dream. Reading through the synopis of other Sullivan cartoons of the era, this device was really over-used.

  • Hello Jerry—What’s odd about this poster is that it really doesn’t feature the star of the cartoon, Sammie Jonsin (no relation). Sammie was a little black boy based on/ripped off from a popular comic strip that Sullivan had ghosted, “SAMBO AND HIS FUNNY NOISES”. Like many other early cartoon series, there’s probably not a single extant entry.—-Cole Johnson.

  • taratata

    i find this thing hilarious and weird.

  • I’m surprised that a poster was even made for this. This suggests that someone felt that if they made it… they would come; that this cartoon would actually be a draw and not just filler on the theater program.