For Those Who Came in Late …

Knowing that persons everywhere are looking for new diversions during the current global circumstances, it occurred to us that we may be getting casual browsers stopping by this space for only the first or second time. They may find themselves wondering, “What’s this whole Library of American Comics thing about, anyway?”

This entry is a very compressed primer on things a newcomer might want to know about our books, and the source material for them …

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A Rare Gift of New (To Me) Artwork

Greetings to all our visitors — I’ve been quiet in recent weeks because my wife has been under the weather and I’ve been running the household by myself (she’s much better now, thanks!). It was a challenge, even before the current circumstances fully took hold. We trust all our readers are acting responsibly and staying healthy. My wife had a far more pedestrian illness than the pandemic threat, but it was a fresh reminder that a sickbed is never a pleasant destination.

Shortly before my wife’s health took a downward turn, I became the custodian of a generous gift to LOAC. Here’s a look at it, and the backstory around it …

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Screwball Nation!

Don’t miss Art Spiegelman’s insightful 5000-word review of Screwball! by Paul Tumey in the New York Review of Books!

“The future of comics is in the past, and Paul Tumey does a heroic job of casting a fresh light on the hidden corners of that past in Screwball! The Cartoonists Who Made the Funnies Funny. It’s a lavish picture book with over six hundred comics, drawings, and photos, many of which haven’t been seen since their twenty-four hour life-spans in newspapers around a century ago.” — Art Spiegelman, The New York Review of Books

Bud, Michener, & Me (One of These Things is Not Like the Others …)

If you read our 2008 extravaganza, Scorchy Smith and The Art of Noel Sickles, you know that Sickles (called “Bud” by his friends) was an immense talent, establishing himself in cartooning before shifting to a stellar illustration career. If you’re unfamiliar with the works of James A. Michener, you can Google his name and find a list of his works, several considered major publishing events in their time (Tales of the South Pacific, for example, was a Pulitzer Prize winner). So when I drop myself into their midst, it’s apparent to me (and I suspect to you, even if you’re too polite to say it) that I’m the “one of these things” that is not like the others. What entitles me to mix with such august company?

Here’s one-half of that answer …

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Mile Markers on the Road to 200: LOAC’s Bicentennial Biggies

Concluding our look back on our first two hundred releases — the earlier installments can be found herehere, and here, too — we check out LOAC books number one hundred fifty-one to two hundred, spanning the years 2016 to 2019. Here’s the list of those titles:

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Mile Markers on the Road to 200: Reaching the Sesquicentennial

Continuing our review of the first two hundred LOAC books, which began here and continued right here, what follows is a look at our one hundred first to one hundred fiftieth releases …

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Mile Markers on the LOAC Road to 200

With a brand-new year and LOAC Essentials Volume 14: Barney Google available on sale, we’ve now successfully traveled The Library of American Comics Road to 200. Each month during 2019 in this space we paused to feature one of our books via the trusty ol’ LOAC Wheel of Fortune, but now seems like an opportune time to show everyone our full list of publications, from Number One to Number Two Hundred.

Of course, a list this big is best absorbed in bite-sized pieces, so we’ll offer it to you in four separate postings, with a few of my personal recollections and observations along the way.

Here is our list of LOAC titles, # 1 – 50 …

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What I Wuz Readin’ —

Happy New Year to LOAC readers and all visitors to this space!

To mark the beginning of the end of the second decade of the 21st Century (yes, it’s true — while the 2020s are starting this year, the century’s second decade ends this year — since the very first year is Year 1, the first decade spans Years 1-10, which means our calendar decades end in “0”. It’s the same reason the 21st Century didn’t officially begin until the year 2001), I wanted to take a trip in time, going back forty years to see exactly which comic strips I was reading in my local newspaper on Thursday, January 1, 1970.

I grew up in a small-sized college town, and we were lucky to have a Monday-through-Friday newspaper, a luxury several similarly-sized towns in my home state did not enjoy. The editorial page of that newspaper was a real treasure trove, carrying syndicated columnists whose work I prize to this day (Bob Greene, long before his career became embroiled in controversy; hell-raising Mike Royko, who made everything he covered seem larger than life; and The New York Times‘s “Observer,” Russell Baker, the most erudite and subtly humorous of the lot), and while the comics section was not the equal of the roster of columnists, it was a very respectable mix of strips, one to which I turned every day without fail.

That newspaper is still being published today, and while it changed hands in 2018 I’m told it remains an independent publication, not a small branch of a very large corporate tree, to which I say, “Bravo!” It has been many years since I read a copy of it from front to back, but it was a major thread in the tapestry of my boyhood, a tie to the larger outside world for a kid who wondered how he might ever reach there from where he was standing.

When we flipped the calendar to begin the 1970s America was still deeply embroiled in the Vietnam conflict, Watergate and the M*A*S*H TV series were both more than two years in the future, Apollo 13 was four months away from flirting with disaster, Bobby Orr would lead the Boston Bruins to their first Stanley Cup victory in 29 years one month later, and Cincinnati’s Riverfront Stadium would open six weeks after that. It was, like all years, one with its tragedies and triumphs, its positives and its problems.

And when we flipped that calendar to January 1, 1970, the reconstruction below shows the strips that ran in my local newspaper’s comics section, in the order in which I remember them appearing on the page, now four decades ago:

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