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Ad-dicting & En-LIFE-ening

We continue our look at comics-related ads that appeared in Life Magazine, previously begun here. This time, just for fun, we’ll go in reverse-chronological order and start at the tag-end of the 1950s. I was but a wee bairn of two months and twenty-five days old (and Stevenson B. Canyon was once again crossing paths and trading barbs with “The Copperhead,” Copper Calhoon) when this ad for Teacher’s Scotch, starring the one-and-only Milton Caniff, appeared in Life‘s October 12, 1959 issue:

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Ad-ing LIFE to the Comics

In various LOAC books we’ve shown (and discussed) examples of the intersection between comics and the world of advertising, yet it’s not a topic we’ve lingered over in this space. I decided to change that just a bit recently, when going through the contents of a bunch of Life Magazines. (One of the perks of this job is being able to sift through old magazines and newspapers, to get a look at — or in some cases, remember — The Way It Used to Be.) These Lifes had a variety of comics-based advertisements, so I snagged a batch of them to share with you.

The earliest Life ad I found with a comics connection was in the magazine’s April 15, 1940 issue. I knew Bud Fisher’s Mutt and Jeff were popular, but until I saw this I had no idea they were experts on digestive difficulties …

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The LOAC Road to 200: February’s LOAC Wheel of Fortune

As promised when we announced the drive toward our two hundredth release, we’ve loaded a handful of our previous books into the LOAC Wheel of Fortune, given it a spin, and will offer a few thoughts and recollections regarding the book selected by the wheel.

There are a number of ways to view a backlist as robust as ours: last month we spun the wheel based on only our superhero releases. This time we’re taking a different approach by spinning on all the books previously released in the month of February. Since we have our backlist captured in a table, it was a simple matter to sort on the second month, yielding this list:

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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!

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