Septembers LOAC Wheel of Fortune: Just For Laughs! Redux

I know, I know — I said I had something planned for September, so we’d do our second humor-based spin of the LOAC Wheel of Fortune later in the autumn. I weighed the options and decided the idea I had for September would work even better if I held it back until October. That certainly appealed to me, since now I had a clear path to doing our focus on our funniest “funnies” in back-to-back installments. Hoo-hah!

You’ll notice that just before and just after our fiftieth release, we offered two delightful single-volume books, Cartoon Monarch: Otto Soglow and the Little King and that splendid rare find, Chuck Jones: The Dream That Never Was. (I visited the Chuck Jones Gallery during a June visit to San Diego — a highly-recommended destination, if you’re a Jones-booster like me!) I also like to count myself in the forefront of Cliff Sterrett fans, so it’s a grand pleasure that we have offered readers Polly and Her Pals in two beautiful oversized “Champagne Edition” offerings, plus a year’s worth of dailies from 1933 in one of our LOAC Essentials books. Like Blondie, the earliest installments of The Family Circus are something I’m proud we’ve collected and preserved for 21st Century audiences. The humor offerings in our second hundred titles is weighted toward Walt Disney offerings, and notice that as the year has progressed, as Silly Symphonies Volume 4 indicates, our march toward our 200th Library of American Comics book is getting mighty close to that goal. Here’s the list, in order of release:

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Wonder Woman Strips!

When we published a collection of the rare 1940s Wonder Woman daily newspaper series several years ago, we noted that the strips we reproduced were from the files of DC Comics and represented, to the best knowledge at the time, the complete series. When the series was originally winding down, in late 1945, it was thought that it most likely appeared in only one newspaper—the Chicago Herald-American. That newspaper never ran the daily strip for November 19, 1945. The Herald-American did not publish on Thanksgiving Day, Thursday, November 22nd, so it published the November 20th strip on the 19th, and then scratched out the dates on the November 21st and 22nd dailies and published them on the 20th and 21st, respectively. It picked up again on Friday the 23rd and continued until the final strip on December 1st.

We promised at the time of our publication that if a November 19, 1945 daily surfaced in the future, we will make it available online and in subsequent editions.

Well, guess what?!

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The August LOAC Wheel of Fortune: Just for Laughs

We continue journeying toward our two hundredth Library of American Comics release with the August spin of the LOAC Wheel of Fortune – but before we give it a whirl, these few (semi-) serious paragraphs on a humorous subgenre –

I noted with interest that we’ve devoted almost twenty-five percent of the total LOAC output to some of the funniest of the funnies – and well over that percentage if you consider “story strips” like The Gumps, Little Orphan Annie, Baron Bean, Bungle Family, and Gasoline Alley to be comedy first and narrative continuity second. (I’ve chosen not to do that, to keep the list of titles under consideration to a manageable amount.) From dailies like 1933’s Polly and Her Pals and Herriman’s Krazy Kats that were published the next year (both collected in LOAC Essentials volumes) to more contemporary series such as Bobby London’s run on Popeye in Thimble Theater, The Library of American Comics has reprinted the crème de la rib-tickling crème. That commitment will continue, as you’ll see in the soon-to-be-released Screwball! book that will have you *plop!*ping with laughter into the nearest comfy chair (at least, we hope that’s where you land — *plop!*ping down onto a hardwood floor can hurt!).

Some of the LOAC parade of comedy also boasts historical significance – think of Dagwood Bumstead’s hunger strike and his eventual wedding to Miss Boopadoop in Blondie, Volume 1 – and some of it has sprung from our agreement with Disney (as you’ve surely noticed, the first word in Silly Symphonies is, well – Silly), but those are extra benefits added to comics designed to provoke smiles, chuckles, and out-and-out guffaws as they brighten up your day.

We have so many humor collections in our backlist, we’ll split it in twain and do two funny-funnies spins of the ol’ LOAC Wheel of Fortune, one this month and the other later in autumn (we have something planned for the September spin that is specifically tied to that month, so stay tuned for that!). Here is our August list of contenders …

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More About the Man Called Fritz

Last time in this space, we offered you insights into the life of talented artist Fred Kida offered by one of his sons and one of his grandchildren. The focus of that companion piece was the relationship between Mr. Kida – who was called “Fritz” by his family and close friends – and his wife, Elly. The couple was together over six decades.

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Fritz & Elly: A Love Story

Earlier this spring we released Spider-Man Volume 5, featuring the comic strip adventures of Marvel’s amazing arachnid from 1985-86. In preparing the text feature for the book I was lucky enough to gain additional insights into the life and career of one of the often-unheralded Spidey newspaper creators, Fred Kida. I got them from the most reliable sources available – via interviews with Paul Kida, one of Fred’s sons, and his granddaughter, Lani! One of the first things I learned was Fred’s nickname.

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Out of This World in July with The LOAC Wheel of Fortune

In keeping with the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11 — and in celebration of Star Wars Volume 3 winning the 2019 Eisner Award in its category of “Best Archival Collection/Project—Strips” (grateful thanks are extended to all who voted for it) — the theme of our July spin of the LOAC Wheel of Fortune is space opera. Here are our sixteen books that belong in that subgenre, in the order they were released:

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Fifty Years Ago Today —

— Mankind left its earthly cradle and set foot on another heavenly body as Apollo 11 Astronauts Neil Armstrong and “Buzz” Aldrin left the confines of their Lunar Excursion Module (LEM), dubbed the Eagle, and walked on the Moon.

That momentous event, however, did not occur until almost 4:18 in the afternoon — which means the Sunday newspapers that day were on sale many hours before Armstrong pressed the first human footprint into lunar soil. In my native New England, coverage of the anticipation of Armstrong and Aldrin’s “extra-vehicular activity” (EVA) was forced below the front-page fold, because news of another newsworthy item concerning a high-profile member of Massachusetts’s “first family” was coming to light.

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Saluting History with a Mini-Fantasy Comics Page

We’re quickly closing in on the 50th anniversary of The Landing of the Eagle, as the Apollo 11 mission brought Neil Armstrong and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin safely to the surface of the Moon and back. Surely the media coverage of this golden anniversary is difficult to escape, and that’s as it should be — those of us who were alive to follow the voyage of Armstrong, Aldrin, and Michael Collins (who remained in orbit, piloting the Command Module Columbia as his fellow astronauts trod the Lunar surface) remember it as one of those rare moments when much of the entire planet was united to celebrate an amazing accomplishment.

Being born in mid-July, I was nine years old when Apollo 11 blasted off for its date with destiny, but ten years old when Armstrong made his “one small step for a man.” Headlines across the country mirrored this one, from the Boston Globe, as Columbia roared skyward from Kennedy Space Center atop a Saturn V rocket on July 16, 1969:

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