Author Archive | Bruce Canwell

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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Briefly Noted

Bits and pieces picked up on the road between Star Hawks Volume 3 and Steve Canyon Volume 9 …

 

“Now It Can Be Told” Dept:  Here’s hoping you were able to tune in on Wednesday, May 16th, to see my wife, Krista, vie with two other competitors on Wheel of Fortune. Krista is an exceptional word-game player (it’s murder trying to beat her at Scrabble!), and her skills were on display throughout this episode — though the capricious Wheel can both giveth and taketh away. That said, I was — and am — very proud of her! Here’s her official publicity picture, taken by a show photographer:

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Out Among the Stars —

It occurred to me while writing my text feature for our upcoming Star Hawks Volume 3 that 1979 was quite a watershed year for comic strip science fiction. Archie Goodwin and Gil Kane revamped the Star Hawks premise (we’ll zoom in on that topic in our coverage of the material collected in volume 3) — and the Star Wars and Star Trek comic features each debuted in ’79, as well.

I thought you might enjoy seeing some of the promotional coverage for those two big SF franchises as they took their respective newspaper bows. Though Star Trek launched last, in December, I’ll show you a sample of its promo ads first. Here’s something that ran in the December 1st Ontario (Canada, not California) Journal:

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“The Nomination IS the Award …”

… That’s what Jim Rockford said when he was up for a Private Investigator trophy in the 1979 Rockford Files episode, “Nice Guys Finish Dead.” The Library of American Comics is equally humble, but proudly notes that Star Wars: The Classic Newspaper Strips Volume 1 is a nominee in this year’s Eisner Awards for the category “Best Archival Collection/Project—Strips.” As new Star Wars stories have hit the big screen and the comic shop shelves in recent years, we’re delighted to have made it possible for comics lovers and Star Wars fans alike to enjoy this excellent work by writer/artist Russ Manning, Steve Gerber, Alfredo Alcala, and other fine talent.

As always, the Eisner Award winners will be announced in July, at the San Diego Comic-Con. Everyone at LOAC and IDW extends their thanks to the Eisner committee for acknowledging our efforts.

And we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention that our sister imprint—EuroComics—garnered two nominations for Jean-Pierre Gibrat’s Flight of the Raven!

… You Might Just Say, “It’s Bleeding Cool!”

Up now at the popular comics newsite Bleeding Cool, an interview with yr hmbl svnt — but not just any interview, a three-part interview!

Ian Melton, who writes for the site, contacted me several weeks ago. As a fan of the Amazing Spider-Man comic strip, Ian had bought our reprints of the wall-crawler’s newspaper exploits and asked me if I’d like to talk. Glad to do so, but what I didn’t expect …

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A Dozen Views of One of Life’s Certainties

It’s that time of year here in the United States — tax time, that is! Actually, the citizenry has something of a break in 2018, since the official deadline for filing tax returns, April 15th, falls on a Sunday. That means the deadline slips to the next business day, so in most states the Post Offices are bracing for a run on their windows on Monday the 16th. In Massachusetts, Wisconsin, Connecticut, and Maine, where Patriots Day is a state holiday. the deadline will be Tuesday the 17th — and no, NFL wags, the holiday commemorates the Revolutionary War battles of Lexington and Concord, not the team headquartered in Foxboro, Mass.!

For decades cartoonists have mined tax day for laughs; some of them made it a point to annually commemorate the date in their strips. Don’t believe us? Well, the proof is in the pudding. Here are a dozen strips devoted to the trials and tribulations of taxation, taken at fifteen-year intervals across a period of three decades:

 

From 1980 —

 

From 1995:

 

And finally, from 2010:

Whether you’re assembling your schedules so your tax forms will bear a postmark scant minutes before the deadline or (like the Canwell household) you finished your taxes and have settled accounts with Uncle Sammy weeks before, we hope you enjoyed this little look at tax day in the comics page!

Highly Recommended: Two by Jules Feiffer

We in the comics world do not devote enough attention to the treasure who is Jules Feiffer.

I first encountered his work in the Sunday newspapers of my boyhood. where his Feiffer feature appeared weekly. I bought his 1979 proto-graphic-novel, Tantrum, and the next year I hied myself to the local cineplex to see Robert Altman’s film Popeye — lovingly written for the screen by Jules Feiffer. His 1993 illustrated novel, The Man in the Ceiling, was one of my memorable late-20th-Century reading experiences; a story about a boy who dreams of creating comic books, it strongly resonated with me, to the point where many friends and family members received copies as Christmas gifts that year. I delighted in his string of early-21st-Century children’s books with titles like I’m Not Bobby! and The House Across the Street. A decade ago I came full circle and bought Fantagraphics’s complete collection of Feiffer’s Village Voice strips that were the precursors to the material I first read as a youngster.

While Feiffer has devoted much of his career to drawing cartoons featuring normal, everyday men, women, and children and has rarely intersected with the adventure comics that remain at the heart of the business even today, it’s always been clear to me that Feiffer is One of Us, a comics geek who embraces the warp and woof of the medium and has absorbed the same “classics” that we have. If we had ever had the chance to share a drink with some of the notable talents with whom Feiffer has rubbed elbows — with Altman or Gay Talese or Mike Nichols — what would we say to them? What would we have in common with them? Ah, but if we had the opportunity to bend an elbow with Jules Feiffer, the conversation would likely flow faster than the bartender could fill our glasses. We’d talk about our favorite Caniff Terry and the Pirates sequences — compare and contrast the work of E.C. Segar and George Herriman — pull out of him the stories from his youngest days, just starting out in the business, when he assisted Will Eisner on The Spirit.

I understand that the odds I’ll ever shake hands with Feiffer are small, but I have been lucky enough to renew my acquaintance with him through his most recent works. I am taking this space to unreservedly recommend them to you. His two interconnected graphic novels, Kill My Mother and Cousin Joseph, are wonderful accomplishments that remind us anew of their creator’s singular talents.

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