Our Double Feature: The LOAC Road to 200 and The LOAC Wheel of Fortune!

As you may have seen if you visit our various social media platforms, during 2019 The Library of American Comics is on pace to release its 200th volume. We call this the “LOAC Road to 200,” and we plan to celebrate our fast-approaching milestone in a number of ways as this still-new-year unfolds.

One new feature we’re adding to this space to mark the LOAC Road to 200: our very own LOAC Wheel of Fortune! Each month we’ll load an electronic wheel with a selection of our past titles, give it a virtual spin, see which title the wheel selects, and spend a bit of time discussing it.

The arrival of the “big” 2018 Christmas gift I received from my siblings (as discussed here) put superheroes in my mind for two reasons. Reason the First: Without those 1970s Marvel Comics letters pages, in which Dean and I regularly appeared, offering words of comment about the Marvel mags of the day, the chain of events that helped create The Library of American Comics may have never come to pass. Reason the Second: Roughly ten percent of our two-hundred-title output is devoted to such characters — from the comic-strip versions of DC’s “trinity” (Superman, Wonder Woman, Batman) to the long-running newspaper feature headlined by Marvel’s most popular character, the Amazing Spider-Man, to the Bell Syndicate’s Miss Fury (the first lady costumed hero created by a female cartoonist, Tarpe Mills). Factor in that one of our first 2019 releases on the LOAC Road to 200 will be the fifth volume of Spider-Man and it made lots of sense (to me, at least) to load the LOAC superhero books into the wheel …

… Give ‘er a spin, and see which book came up! In this inaugural spin, it was —

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Notes on the Canwellian Holidays

A Happy 2019 to all our readers and visitors to this space!

Later this month, as separate postings, we’ll be giving the LOAC Wheel of Fortune its first spin and we’ll present our annual Year in Review feature, as well. But first (which is a funny way to enter a room), here’s a little show-and-tell about how I spent my waning days of December, 2018 …

My wife, Krista, and I alternate years in terms of with whom we spend the holidays: odd-numbered years it’s with her family, even-numbered years with mine. In this case we packed our bags and jetted south to the Sunshine State for a week with my mother, also seeing my Florida-based sister, her husband, and their daughter in the process. Krista is the daredevil in our family — I adhere to a line by Ray Bradbury I read long ago. I’ll paraphrase it as: “Why do they call it terra firma? Because the more firma, the less terror” — and as a Christmas present, my sister arranged a meeting in Kissimmee so my wife and niece, Haley, could try a ride known as The Slingshot. The operators claim, “This innovative Slingshot amusement device is by far one the most exciting vertical amusement rides available today. Slingshot passengers are catapulted vertically at over 100 miles per hour …” It looks like this, from a distance:

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Six Decades of Christmas in the Comics

We could think of no better way to wish all our readers Happy Holidays than to share the Christmas offerings from a half-dozen strips, each representing a decade of newspaper comics.

 

Leading off, from the tag-end of 1939, our favorite of favorites, Terry and the Pirates, with this Yuletide entry from the story in which Pat, April, and Captain Blaze first meet Singh-Singh.

Representing the 1940s, from 1948, Little Orphan Annie spends yet another Christmas away from her beloved “Daddy.”

And the young married Yokums get the hint of bad news, as only Al Capp can deliver it, in this December 25th 1952 installment of Li’l Abner:

A run of Christmas strips wouldn’t be complete without visiting the Peanuts gang. Here’s everyone’s favorite beagle, in a wryly charming 1962 outing from Sparky Schulz:

Here’s a more acerbic take on the season from Johnny Hart in this 1973 B.C. daily:

And we close in the 1980s, with one of our more contemporary favorites: here’s Lynn Johnston, clucking up a storm in For Better or For Worse from Christmas Day, 1985:

And if these strips alone don’t put you in the holiday mood, we’ll close with this old favorite from postings past, brought back by popular demand:

Best wishes, one and all, ’til we meet again in 2019!

 

–Dean, Lorraine, Kurtis, and Bruce

A Coming Attraction of a Different Sort

The holiday hustle and bustle is affecting a lot of us (and a lot of you, too, I bet!), but though 2018 still has nineteen days left as I pen these words, it’s not too early to be looking forward to 2019. The year ahead will offer the next chapters in such long-running series as For Better of For Worse, Little Orphan Annie, Dick Tracy, and Superman (among others), plus some surprising new releases. It will all be building up to an extra-special milestone that, in this day of social media and minimalist message content, might be designated “D4200.”

More on exactly what that means coming in January, when we inaugurate a new monthly feature in this space: The LOAC Wheel of Fortune!

Sure, it may not look like much now, but when we load it with content and give it a whirl next month and in the months thereafter, we think you’ll enjoy the results. What we can tell you right now is that this LOAC Wheel of Fortune has nothing to do with the TV Wheel of Fortune, on which my wife was a contestant earlier this year (discussed as the lead item in this May posting).

For now, however, here’s wishing all visitors to this space a happy last few weeks of 2018!

Episode 012 with special guest Bruce Canwell

Bruce Canwell and Kurtis Findlay are back for another episode of the Library of American Comics & EuroComics Podcast!

Bruce and Kurtis talk about the newly released Little Orphan Annie, Vol. 15: 1950-1951, take a look back at Jack Kent’s King Aroo, Vol. 1, and recall the secret origins of the Library of American Comics!

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November Nibbles Before Turkey-Day Gobbles

It’s an honor, but never a joyous task, to pen a remembrance for a luminary in this artform who has left us, as I recently did for Stan Lee. Thinking about Stan’s passing in the days that followed, it led me to wonder, “What upbeat comics milestones are attached to the month of November?” The 90th anniversary of the creation of Mickey Mouse is getting wide-spread — and justly deserved — recognition, but I found another handful of items that put a smile on my lips …

For instance, Sesame Street‘s inimitable Cookie Monster marks November 2nd as his birthday. Here he is, doing what he does best, in this 1973 installment of the Sesame Street newspaper strip:

Writer Alan Moore was born November 18, 1953. While his credits are many, varied, and often exceptionally fine, I have a sentimental fondness for his work with Steve Bissette and John Totleben (and sometimes Rick Veitch) on DC’s Swamp Thing.

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Face Front, One Last Time

Though not unexpected, it is certainly sad to mark the passing of Stanley Martin Lieber, known the world over as Stan Lee, at age ninety-five.

“Silver Age Stan,” circa the mid-1970s

Much has already been written about Stan’s career while he was with us, and his obituary is appearing everywhere, including The New York TimesThe Hollywood ReporterThe Comics ReporterBBC News, and elsewhere.

I met Stan once, at a Boston convention, along with my good friend Mike Dudley. Stan was gracious to all, and personalized a bit of Fantastic Four memorabilia for Mike that had been previously autographed by both “King” Kirby and Joe Sinnott.

Stan in his later years, when the public-at-large knew him primarily through his movie cameo appearances.

And of course, in recent years I interviewed Stan in association with our own Amazing Spider-Man newspaper strip collections. Stan was forthright and upbeat, and as we wrapped up our twenty-minute session he told me, “You’re a good interviewer, and I wish you a lot of a lot of luck with those books.” A cynic might say he was only being polite, but it was a pleasant moment for me, to have a man whose work brought me years of enjoyment give his brief connection with me a thumbs-up.

It’s natural to want to speak of one’s own brushes with a passing Great, but it also seems right to me to use this occasion to let The Man speak for himself. Here is Stan, on the Soapbox that was familiar to so many of us in our formative years, delivering a message at least as relevant today as it was when it was first published, almost a half-century ago:

Speaking for everyone at The Library of American Comics, our most sincere sympathies are extended to Stan’s surviving brother, Larry Lieber (himself just recently retired from drawing the Spider-Man newspaper comic), and Stan’s daughter, Joan (J.C.) Lee.

Rest in peace, Mr. Lee.

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