Author Archive | Bruce Canwell

A Fantasy Comics Page for The Holiday That Gets No Respect

Comics creators sometimes gave nods to the calendar in their ongoing newspaper strips. Year-in and year-out, many comics did special installments of their features to commemorate Christmas and, a week later, the farewell to the old year and the welcoming of its successor. Comics with a strong streak of patriotism saluted holidays like Independence Day, Armed Forces Day, and for a time, V-E and V-J Days.

But Groundhog Day? Fuhgedaboudit. The comics trade showed no love to that special early February day when millions of hearty northerners, fatigued by battling weeks of the subzero cold, ice, and snow that Ole Man Winter loves to dish out, looked to the humble groundhog for a sign that spring might soon be on its way. An event that has its roots in the 19th Century and is worthy of being marked on each year’s new calendars never seemed to excite the cartoonists who offered readers their daily dose of excitement and humor.

What did comic strips offer their audiences on that day when the woodchuck was acclaimed for something other than chucking wood? We thought you’d never ask — so, just for you, we prepared this fantasy comics page from February 2, 1935 …

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Dog Days & Original Art: Canwell’s 2018 Twin Teases

Here’s hoping this still-New-Year is off to a fine start for our readers and all the visitors to this space! It’s been a mighty frosty start to 2018 here in New England (as it was in many parts of the country), where we tied the meteorological record for twelve consecutive days where the high temperature never topped twenty degrees. It’s been so cold in the greater Boston area that my intrepid dog, Gypsy, has consented to wearing the sweater my wife bought for her on December 29th (something I never thought she would do) —

Despite the wintry chill in my area, I’m working on a variety of LOAC projects that promise to make 2018 a hot year indeed! Let me offer you a tiny peek at what you’ll be seeing under our logo in the weeks and months ahead.

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2017: The LOAC Year in Review

The Library of American Comics marked its tenth year of publication this summer, and using this milestone as a launching point, 2017 was the year LOAC took the comics world by storm. The familiar “word balloon” logo was emblazoned on a wide range of products including t-shirts, coffee mugs, towels, baseball caps, and even lace doilies to drape over the back of sofas or love-seats. There were the LOAC events at major conventions on both coasts. The article on us (with the biographical sidebar about Dean) in that July issue of Entertainment Weekly. And how about …

Wait. None of that really occurred. Sorry — sorry!

Instead, what happened during 2017 was that LOAC continued its mission to collect a wide range of entertaining and significant newspaper comics in permanent hardcover editions, helping to preserve the “strips” portion of comics, one of the handful of truly native American artforms.

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Santa Shows Up Early at My Home

We’ve discussed previously in this space that I try to get a representative example of artwork from some of my favorite LOAC books so they can be displayed in my home (On My Walls). I’ve added to my modest collection this year, and recently I visited my old pals Brian and Sally at Rainbow Art and Framing and asked them to put together a couple new pieces for me. They recently called and had things ready for me.

Obviously I wasn’t going to be able to snag an Alex Raymond Flash Gordon original, but my introduction to our fourth and final Flash/Jungle Jim volume touched upon the appearances of those characters in the post-Raymond years, and I was able to snag this cel from the late-1970s Filmation Flash cartoon. Here’s how it looks now that it’s hanging on one of my living room wall:

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A Holiday Born Fifty Years Ago

Thanksgiving is being celebrated in the U.S., with millions of travelers bound “over the river and through the woods” — if not to grandmother’s house, then to the home of some beloved family member. Air and rail travel have made trips of thousands of miles possible, transforming for many the official fourth-Thursday-of-November observance into a four-day holiday weekend.

Whether you’re staying close to home, crossing the country, or traveling some distance in between, may your Thanksgiving be a pleasant one — and may you gobble up this fantasy comics page from a Thanksgiving exactly fifty years old — from Thanksgiving Day, November 23, 1967. It features familiar faces, as well as more esoteric comic strips, such as Born Loser by Art Sansom (the series was only two-and-a-half years old at this time, having debuted in May of 1965, though Sansom had previously worked on Chris Welkin – Planeteer and Vic Flint); Wayout by Ken Muse (not “Ben,” as this credit mistakenly indicates; you can learn more about Mr. Muse’s life and career here); Mell Lazarus’s lesser-known series, Miss Peach; and The Berrys, by Carl Grubert.

Enjoy!

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In the Spirit (Heh-Heh) of the Season

My wife and I bought our first bags of Hallowe’en candy today, gearing up for the hordes of ghoulies and ghosties who’ll be shouting, “Trick or treat!” at our front door at the end of the month. It’s easy to get in the swing of All Hallows around here — I don’t even need to see Hallowe’en-themed comic strips, like this 1980 grin from Tom Batiuk, to get me ready for this most innocently-fun of all holidays:

No, it’s easy for us to get in the Hallowe’en spirit because our neighbors down the street annually decorate their lawn in all manners of the macabre — inflatables (some of them over seven feet tall!), motion-activated exhibits, fog machines — you name it, they’ve probably done it during one Hallowe’en season or another.

Here’s a taste of how it looks in my neighborhood once the sun goes down …

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Boys & Their Toys

So I’m busily working away on the text feature for Steve Canyon Volume 8 (a juicy assemblage of material that includes Milton Caniff turning real-life incidents into story fodder!) and I get this e-mail from my dear, long-time friend Doug Thornsjo. If you read the Definitive Flash Gordon and Jungle Jim you got a taste of Doug’s writing (and his voluminous knowledge of movie serials) in Volume 2, in which he produced an article about Buster Crabbe’s three chapterplay turns as Flash.

Doug knew that in Canyon we had provided some coverage of the Ideal toy line based on Milton Caniff’s high-flying colonel, items like the Jet Helmet …

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Great Things Come to Those Who Wait

It was a gala day in LOAC-land when we announced that our eleventh LOAC Essentials volume would reprint a mid-1940s selection of Edwina’s terrific Cap Stubbs & Tippie. This book represents the culmination of about a decade of planning. Let me explain that perhaps-startling statement …

I was first introduced to Edwina’s delightful view of small-town life in 1987, when I bought my copy of the twenty-fifth issue of Nemo magazine.

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