Archive | Baron Bean

Still ESSENTIALly The Baron — and His Friends

This week I received an advance copy of the twelfth LOAC Essentials volume, which also completes our reprinting of Baron Bean. As a stone George Herriman fan, that made my entire week special! Fronted by an incisive introduction by Jared Gardner, this volume collects the 1918 strips that wrap up The Baron’s misadventures, aided and abetted (as usual) by his man-Friday, Grimes.

But the arrival of The Baron’s swan song gave me pause — yes, this book is the latest in the Essentials line, but it’s also the third in Baron Bean‘s distinguished, perhaps-too-short run. Since I shelve all my Essentials volumes together, should I arrange them in order of publication, which would sprinkle the Bean books throughout as the first, sixth, and twelfth of the series … or should I make a “mini-series” out of Baron Bean, grouping those three book together, and leaving the other Essentials standing side-by-side in publication order?

Giving it perhaps too much thought, I came up with a third option, hastily shuffled my Essentials into this order, and snapped a picture of it to share with you:

As you can see, the solution I’ve settled upon is to simply shelve my Essentials in by-year chronology. This has the benefits of keeping the three Baron Beans together, since they’re by far the earliest strips reprinted in the series, then grouping the remaining books in such a way so that common styles of each period are also grouped together (and styles did change, as the young artform matured and attracted new talent).

Looking at this arrangement we see two ends of the comic strip spectrum in 1929, with the family serials, epitomized by The Gumps, in the ultraviolet and the a’borning adventure features (represented by the first-ever Tarzan newspaper comic strip) in the infrared.

And how about that 1933? Family comedies move in zany new, often-Deco directions, thanks to Cliff Sterrett’s terrific Polly and Her Pals, while Dan Dunn debuts as part of a wave of hard-bitten crimebusters in the then-still-fresh Dick Tracy mold, while Alex Raymond elevates Tim Tyler’s Luck to new artistic heights before he leaves Lyman Young’s employ, striking out on his own on series like Secret Agent X-9, Jungle Jim, and what was that other one …? Oh, yes — Flash Gordon!

The years represented by only one Essentials volume are nevertheless well represented indeed — a slice of the classic Bungle Family (“Such crust!”) in 1930; a 1934 dose of Coconino Craziness from Herriman’s dear KatAlley Oop totally changing its narrative structure in ’39; and an end-of-the-War dose of Americana as only Edwina Dunn could do it with our collection of “Cap” Stubbs & Tippie (hurray!) circa 1945.

Looking at the Essentials-to-date in this manner gave me a fresh appreciation for the series. These little books pack a mighty historic punch!

I’m hoping you’re enjoying each release in this series as much as I am — and that you’ll be on the lookout for Baron Bean Volume 3, as it goes on sale very soon. Of course, we’d love to see photos of your comic strip collection, either in its entirety or focused on the LOAC subset of the whole. Feel free to send them to us via social media or Facebook!

Back to the Shelves

Several years ago we took some time in this space to show you what my LOAC bookshelf looked like. I shelve my books in alphabetical order by author, or by publisher where that makes more sense — for instance, while my William Saroyans are under “S”, my Fantastic Fours are under “M”, with the rest of my Marvel Comics collections. My Library of American Comics titles are therefore under “L,” and then shelved alphabetically in a logical way (well, logical to me, anyway), as you can see:

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JUST ANNOUNCED: LOAC Essentials, Vol. 12: Baron Bean, 1918

We know you’ve been waiting, but the wait is over! Coming November 2018, The Library of American Comics proudly presents THE LIBRARY OF AMERICAN COMICS ESSENTIALS, VOL. 12: BARON BEAN, 1918, the concluding volume of George Herriman’s hilarious daily strip starring the self-appointed Baron Bean. Now the complete Baron Bean will be reprinted for the first time ever—three volumes that will be a must-have for fans of century-old comics!

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A George Herriman first edition

As newspaper comic strips continue to lose presence because of their host organism’s decline in readership, we’ve decided to ramp up our efforts to preserve the classics of the form. We previously announced LOAC Essentials, our new series that will reprint, in yearly volumes, the rare early daily newspaper strips that are essential to comics history, seminal strips that are unique creations in their own right, while also significantly contributing to the advancement of the medium.

Advance copies of the first volume—Baron Bean 1916 by George Herriman—arrived today and we’re thrilled with how it printed. Here’s Art Director Lorraine Turner holding the book in front of the shelves where it will eventually sit.

 

BaronBean_photo

We’re happy with the book for a number of reasons, not least of which is that it has the “feel” we were shooting for. One of the inspirations for the format (11.5″ wide by 4..25″ high) was seeing Harold Gray’s personal set of proofbooks for Little Orphan Annie. Instead of the strips being 6-up on a sheet (the entire week of dailies), as is so often the case with syndicate proofs, Gray had his dailies bound in yearly volumes—one strip per page. It’s an enticing format that helps us at least in some small way to have an experience similar to what newspaper buyers had when the strips were new and part of their daily routine.

We chose a high-quality newsprint for LOAC Essentials so that the book has the”feel” and “look” of reading a bound collection of comics that were clipped from actual newspapers. It’s a sensory thing. If this is indeed the Golden Age of Newspaper Strip reprints then we’re going to have as much fun with it as we can.

We think you will, too, when this first Essentials is on sale in about a month.

One Day at a Time

While we’re always excited about launching a new series, here’s one that has us revved up even more than usual. We’ve been planning it for quite some time and and it’s actually a bunch of series within a series. The first volume has just been put on the schedule for September.

Essentials1_BaronBean

LOAC ESSENTIALS will reprint early daily newspaper strips that are essential to the history of comics presented in a novel format: 11″ wide by 4.25″ high, each page containing a single daily strip. It’s different from our other books which generally contain two or three years of strips printed three to a page. By reproducing the strips one per page in an oblong format, it allows us to have an experience similar to what newspaper buyers had fifty to a hundred years ago—reading the comics one day at a time. Each page will also showcase the title given to that daily by the cartoonist, plus the weekday and date.

Every volume in the series contains a year’s worth of dailies bound in hardcover, retailing for $19.99.

Essentials2_Polly

In addition to wanting to recreate the feeling of reading sequential comics one at a time, the idea sprang in part from seeing Harold Gray’s set of bound Little Orphan Annie proofbooks. Syndicate proofs come in differing varieties, but dailies are often bound annually, in a thick one-strip-per-page book. When Bruce Canwell was reading a year’s worth at Boston University, he turned to me and commented that “the proofbook format creates an irresistible urge to flip the page and see what happens in the next day’s strip.”

Couldn’t say it better myself!

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Another inspiration was the Hyperion line of classic strips edited by Bill Blackbeard in the 1970s. These books were an eye-opening education to many of us thirty-five years ago. They’re long out-of-print and command ridiculous prices on the collector’s market. With LOAC ESSENTIALS, we take the baton from Bill so we can preserve many more classic daily strips that are essential to the history of comics.

The first three titles give you a taste of what’s to come:

Volume 1
Baron Bean by George Herriman. The first of a three-book sub-set by the creator of Krazy Katthat will reprint for the first time the complete series from 1916-1919 starring the character Gilbert Seldes called “half Micawber, half Charlie Chapin.” Edited by Dean Mullaney with an introduction by Jared Gardner. September 2012.

Essentials1_BaronBean_page

Volume 2
Polly and Her Pals by Cliff Sterrett. A complete year (1933) of surrealistic hilarity featuring Polly, Maw and Paw Perkins, cousin Ashur, Neewah, and the rest of the outrageous Perkins household. Edited by Dean Mullaney with an introduction by Bruce Canwell. January 2013.

Essentials2_Polly_page

Volume 3
The Gumps: The Saga of Mary Gold by Sidney Smith. In the early 1920s Sidney Smith augmented his gag-a-day style in The Gumps with suspense and soap opera continuity, creating what was arguably the most popular strip of its time. With “The Saga of Mary Gold” in 1928 and 1929 he cemented his reputation by creating a storyline that changed the comics forever, a saga that was called “one of the ten biggest events in comics history” by Hogan’s Alley magazine. Edited and with an introduction by Jared Gardner. March 2013.

Essentials3_Gumps_page

And there’s lots more to come!

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