Archive | LOAC Essentials

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!

Episode 009 with special guest Lorraine Turner

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

In this episode, Dean and Kurtis talk about The Silence of Malka and For Better or For Worse, Vol. 2! Plus, Lorraine Turner returns to the show and she and Dean share stories from their recent trip to Italy! And if that isn’t enough: San Diego Comic-Con panel and signing info! The fate of Red Barry! Info about a new Alex Toth book! And a tease about an upcoming volume of LOAC Essentials!

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Barry One, Pearl Two

A few months ago in this space I showed you some photos of our LOAC books, arrayed on my bookshelves — you can see it here, if you’d like a refresher.

More recently, we received some impressive bookshelf photos from another comics historian, the estimable Barry Pearl. Check out this first of five shots of Mr. Pearl’s amassed comics collections and be prepared, like me, to resist the urge to whistle in appreciation …

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Episode 005 with special guest Eddie Campbell

Dean Mullaney and Kurtis Findlay are back with another episode of the Library of American Comics & EuroComics Podcast!

In this episode, Dean and Kurtis discuss LOAC Essentials, Vol. 11: Tippie, The Goat Getters, and Violette Around the World, Vol. 1. Plus, cartoonist Eddie Campbell reveals all about his upcoming book, The Goat Getters!

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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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Beyond the Death of Mary Gold

The second volume in LOAC Essentials reprinted “The Death of Mary Gold,” one of the most significant and influential sequences in comics history. The events that occurred in Sidney Smith’s The Gumps during the spring of 1929 are the benchmark against which every major comic strip death in the succeeding ninety years has inevitably been compared.

When we last saw Tom Carr, Mary’s betrothed, on May 3, 1929, he was alone, adrift…mourning the loss of his beloved Mary Gold. Although Sidney Smith naturally turned his attention to new storylines involving Andy Gump and family, the cartoonist periodically kept readers apprised of Tom’s life post-Mary. Through November of that year, Smith dedicated twenty-five dailies to our old friend Tom Carr. Part way through, he re-introduces the gold-digging Widow Zander, who first appeared in 1921(Watch out, Tom!).

Click “Continue reading” to see the first eight (from May 4 to May 26). Look for a second group of eight in a few days, followed by the final nine.

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A Fantasy Comics Page for The Holiday That Gets No Respect

Comics creators sometimes gave nods to the calendar in their ongoing newspaper strips. Year-in and year-out, many comics did special installments of their features to commemorate Christmas and, a week later, the farewell to the old year and the welcoming of its successor. Comics with a strong streak of patriotism saluted holidays like Independence Day, Armed Forces Day, and for a time, V-E and V-J Days.

But Groundhog Day? Fuhgedaboudit. The comics trade showed no love to that special early February day when millions of hearty northerners, fatigued by battling weeks of the subzero cold, ice, and snow that Ole Man Winter loves to dish out, looked to the humble groundhog for a sign that spring might soon be on its way. An event that has its roots in the 19th Century and is worthy of being marked on each year’s new calendars never seemed to excite the cartoonists who offered readers their daily dose of excitement and humor.

What did comic strips offer their audiences on that day when the woodchuck was acclaimed for something other than chucking wood? We thought you’d never ask — so, just for you, we prepared this fantasy comics page from February 2, 1935 …

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