Author Archive | Bruce Canwell

Still ESSENTIALly The Baron — and His Friends

This week I received an advance copy of the twelfth LOAC Essentials volume, which also completes our reprinting of Baron Bean. As a stone George Herriman fan, that made my entire week special! Fronted by an incisive introduction by Jared Gardner, this volume collects the 1918 strips that wrap up The Baron’s misadventures, aided and abetted (as usual) by his man-Friday, Grimes.

But the arrival of The Baron’s swan song gave me pause — yes, this book is the latest in the Essentials line, but it’s also the third in Baron Bean‘s distinguished, perhaps-too-short run. Since I shelve all my Essentials volumes together, should I arrange them in order of publication, which would sprinkle the Bean books throughout as the first, sixth, and twelfth of the series … or should I make a “mini-series” out of Baron Bean, grouping those three book together, and leaving the other Essentials standing side-by-side in publication order?

Giving it perhaps too much thought, I came up with a third option, hastily shuffled my Essentials into this order, and snapped a picture of it to share with you:

As you can see, the solution I’ve settled upon is to simply shelve my Essentials in by-year chronology. This has the benefits of keeping the three Baron Beans together, since they’re by far the earliest strips reprinted in the series, then grouping the remaining books in such a way so that common styles of each period are also grouped together (and styles did change, as the young artform matured and attracted new talent).

Looking at this arrangement we see two ends of the comic strip spectrum in 1929, with the family serials, epitomized by The Gumps, in the ultraviolet and the a’borning adventure features (represented by the first-ever Tarzan newspaper comic strip) in the infrared.

And how about that 1933? Family comedies move in zany new, often-Deco directions, thanks to Cliff Sterrett’s terrific Polly and Her Pals, while Dan Dunn debuts as part of a wave of hard-bitten crimebusters in the then-still-fresh Dick Tracy mold, while Alex Raymond elevates Tim Tyler’s Luck to new artistic heights before he leaves Lyman Young’s employ, striking out on his own on series like Secret Agent X-9, Jungle Jim, and what was that other one …? Oh, yes — Flash Gordon!

The years represented by only one Essentials volume are nevertheless well represented indeed — a slice of the classic Bungle Family (“Such crust!”) in 1930; a 1934 dose of Coconino Craziness from Herriman’s dear KatAlley Oop totally changing its narrative structure in ’39; and an end-of-the-War dose of Americana as only Edwina Dunn could do it with our collection of “Cap” Stubbs & Tippie (hurray!) circa 1945.

Looking at the Essentials-to-date in this manner gave me a fresh appreciation for the series. These little books pack a mighty historic punch!

I’m hoping you’re enjoying each release in this series as much as I am — and that you’ll be on the lookout for Baron Bean Volume 3, as it goes on sale very soon. Of course, we’d love to see photos of your comic strip collection, either in its entirety or focused on the LOAC subset of the whole. Feel free to send them to us via social media or Facebook!

Larry Lieber, May Your Webs Never Wiggle!

Back after too long an absence: deadlines are implacable (just finished proofing galleys for Steve Canyon Volume 9, which is chock-full of terrific material) and some family commitments placed their demands upon me (including a wedding in my wife’s family, which took me out-of-state earlier this month) … but the crunch is over, so at last I have a chance to offer a hearty “Salute!” to Larry Lieber, who stepped down in September from penciling The Amazing Spider-Man newspaper strip after an incredible run that spans more than three decades. I’ve selected ten examples of Larry’s work on the wall-crawler’s newspaper adventures, grouped loosely by theme. Peter Parker’s far-famed bad luck is on display in these three strips from January of 1981 and July and October of 2001:

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Fantasy Comics Page & One of Their Own

Fifty-four years ago, on September 15, 1964, the New York World’s Fair marked “Steve Canyon Day” and honored the picaresque hero’s creator, Milton Caniff.

And why not? Caniff had spent most of that summer weaving a tale set at the Fair involving both Canyons, Steve and his collegiate cousin, Poteet. The World’s Fair, being staged in New York, was heavily covered by all major forms of media, and a Canyon storyline set at the huge exhibition was a promotional boon to several subscriber newspapers, as this ad from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch indicates:

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Barry One, Pearl Two

A few months ago in this space I showed you some photos of our LOAC books, arrayed on my bookshelves — you can see it here, if you’d like a refresher.

More recently, we received some impressive bookshelf photos from another comics historian, the estimable Barry Pearl. Check out this first of five shots of Mr. Pearl’s amassed comics collections and be prepared, like me, to resist the urge to whistle in appreciation …

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Salute for a Centennial Birthday!

It is rare that we rerun content from prior years in this space, but as the title above hints, in this case we have a special reason to do just that. Let me take you back to a story we first ran on June 16, 2013:


Happy Birthday ‘Taffy Tucker’

Serious Caniffites have long known that The Rembrandt of the Comic Strips posed men and women as characters from first Terry and the Pirates and later Steve Canyon, having them create tableaux he translated into memorable comic strip panels. Several photo features in the news media of the day chronicled Milt’s working methods and showcased images of the models who portrayed everyone from Pat Ryan to Miss Mizzou; we have run excerpts from several of those features in several of our books, including this one:

 

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Tributes from a Special Guest Author

It was a great pleasure to receive the material below from one of the favored comics writers of my boyhood, and one of my favorite acquaintances as an adult — Don McGregor. His body of work surely needs no introduction (and if you’d dispute that because you’re late to the party, well, a quick Google search will quickly clue you in). Don asked me to insure his message got posted in this space, and I’m only too happy to follow through on that request. Without further ado, friends, I yield the floor to the 2015 recipient of the Bill Finger Award for Excellence in Comic Book Writing …

DEAN MULLANEY

NOBODY DOES IT BETTER

Copyright 2018 by Don McGregor

When Dean Mullaney first thrust his unique talent into the comics medium in the mid-1970s he helped open up the foundations of comics in a way few had done before, creating a place where writers were held in esteem, and where they could create stories that were unlike anything being published anywhere else.

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