Archive | LOAC Essentials

Great Things Come to Those Who Wait

It was a gala day in LOAC-land when we announced that our eleventh LOAC Essentials volume would reprint a mid-1940s selection of Edwina’s terrific Cap Stubbs & Tippie. This book represents the culmination of about a decade of planning. Let me explain that perhaps-startling statement …

I was first introduced to Edwina’s delightful view of small-town life in 1987, when I bought my copy of the twenty-fifth issue of Nemo magazine.

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In addition to reprinting a 1937 sequence from the strip, the magazine featured an interview with the series’s creator, Edwina Dumm. The lead-in to the interview claimed Edwina, “… is squarely in the proud tradition of Mark Twain, Thomas Bailey Aldrich, and Booth Tarkington. Cap Stubbs is the American Everyboy.”

Ms. Dumm (at ninety-three years young when interviewed) was easily as charming as her comic strip, and after reading that issue of Nemo I was on the lookout for more Cap Stubbs & Tippie and Edwina artwork. Here’s a small sketch piece I bought just a handful of years ago; as you can see, Edwina’s animals are wonderfully realized, her human characters expressive and distinctive.

Edwina Sketches

When we formed The Library of American Comics a decade ago, it didn’t take long before Dean Mullaney and I started a list of strips we’d like to reprint and re-introduce to contemporary audiences. Cap Stubbs & Tippie was high on both our lists … but Edwina Dumm passed away in 1990 and the full status of the series was not totally clear. We didn’t pursue the matter with a Columbo-like doggedness, but we kept our “radar” active, we followed leads as they became available  — some valuable, some pure dead ends — and the results of literally years of due diligence made it clear we were able to green-light a Cap Stubbs & Tippie reprint volume. I let out a Cap Stubbs-like, “Yippee!” on the day we made the announcement, and I’m eager for you to get the opportunity to see a hefty sampling of Ms. Dumm’s wonderful, heartwarming work.

After the “soft sell” I’ve put into this piece, you may be thinking, “Bet he’s really eager to start work on the Introduction for that book!” Welll-l-l — I would be, but I’m not going to be writing that Intro. You see, over the span of time we’ve intermittently been working on bringing Cap Stubbs to you, we’ve met one particular Edwina fan, a highly-respected comics historian, who knows more about Edwina than I do and is even more enthusiastic about writing this Introduction than I am (and that’s saying something!). Which is why I’m pleased as the well-known punch to tell you that Caitlin McGurk, associate curator of The Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum, will be your guide on this particular tour of Edwina’s fine comics creations.

Since one of our overarching goals is to provide you with the best information available for this, and for every book we release, I’m more than willing to yield this particular floor to Caitlin. Something similar happened a few years ago, after all — I’m an absolutely HUGE Cliff Sterrett fan, and when we decided to publish a volume of Polly and Her Pals Sundays, Jeet Heer expressed a real interest in that assignment. Since I greatly admire Jeet’s knowledge and talent, I stepped aside and let him “play through.” In the end it all worked out perfectly, since Jeet penned Intros for both Polly Sunday books, while I got my turn in between those two volumes when I drew the assignment to write the text feature for our Polly LOAC Essentials volume, reprinting the 1933 dailies. I also got to take a road trip to Maine to do research and make a focus of my piece the Ogunquit Artists Colony of which Sterrett was a major player. (You can read about that trip here.)

So after you’ve enjoyed our upcoming LOAC Essentials volume, if you’re won over by Cap Stubbs and Tippie the way Caitlin, Dean, and I have been, we’ll be back with another Edwina project. Then you bet your bippy I’ll be campaigning to land that gig!

I’ll leave you with this photo of Edwina and one of her furry friends —

Edwina & Friend

 

 

 

When “Quick Takes” Meet “Coming Attractions” —

— You get a piece like this one, in which we answer the often-asked question, “What’s ahead for LOAC in the months to come?”

Firstuvall, we got your space opera right here! As 2017 unfolds you’ll see us wrap up our UK Star Trek comics and release the middle volumes in both our Star Wars and Star Hawks trilogies. To whet your appetite for the exploits of Rex, Sniffer, Alice K., and Chavez, here’s an April 1979 beauty, done in Gil Kane’s inimitable style:

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ZAM!, indeed …

Old friends will continue to make fresh appearances — Little Orphan Annie, Dick Tracy, and also our fourth Skippy book! This endearing kids-strip is always a delight, and Jared Gardner’s insights into the increasingly-troubled life of cartoonist Percy Crosby is compelling reading, an important addition to our understanding of comics history.

One of our old friends will offer something extra-special to readers — our upcoming Li’l Abner Volume 9 will provide a handful of strips that have never before been reprinted in continuity! What the dickens does THAT mean, you ask? Well, sharp-eyed readers of the Kitchen Sink Press Abner reprints from the 1980s/90s may remember there was a gap in the continuous run of strips between KSP Volumes 17 and 18 — the 1951 strips reprinted in Vol 17 ended on December 29th, with Fearless Fosdick still at the mercy of the “Atom Bum”. Vol 18 opened in Dogpatch with the January 21, 1952 daily, focusing on Abner and his brand-new chemistry set. What happened to the dailies in between? What was the fate of the Atom Bum? Here’s a snippet from one of the missing strips that makes it look bad for America’s ideel …

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We asked Denis Kitchen about the missing strips and he reported that a layout problem in Volume 18 caused the dailies in question to be unintentionally dropped (and KSP had reprinted the full story of the Atom Bum in the first of their two Fearless Fosdick collections, published in 1990). Denis is always an invaluable part of our Li’l Abner team and he’s as happy as we are to see these strips being reprinted in continuity for the very first time. And oh, by the way, the other strips in our Abner Volume 9 are also literally History-Making — the mystery of Nancy O wraps up in 1951, and a major event in 1952 made the prestigious cover of Life magazine!

We have more than old friends to offer — as we recently discussed, we’ll also be welcoming Lynn Johnston’s exceptional For Better of For Worse to the LOAC line of books.

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We’ll have more Disney comics for you to enjoy (don’t quack up — more Donald Duck Sundays are coming soon!), and Superman will be wrapping up the 1950s in a colorful collection of Sunday pages. Meanwhile, our next LOAC Essentials will showcase a strip we’ve used in a past “fantasy day comics page” or two (so you can use our “Search” feature to do a little research and start guessing …). This feature is one of my very favorites, but I won’t be writing the Introduction to the book, because we’ve lined up someone who may love this work even more than I do!

Of course, I will be writing the essay for Steve Canyon Volume 8 as we take Stevenson B.’s adventures deeper into the years of the Kennedy Administration. Here’s a sneak-peek at Milton Caniff’s Christmas thought for his audience, circa 1962:

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Bottom line: what’s coming from The Library of American Comics in the months ahead? Loads of adventure and comedy — stories ranging from the Dogpatch hills to the depths of the Barnum Star System — and work by award-winning talents spanning the 1940s through 1970s. If you agree that’s a nice lineup, please join us for those books you’re sure to enjoy!

It All “Ad”s Up

We sometimes have more artwork and photos than we can squeeze into the text features of our books. We’re just putting a wrap on Steve Canyon Volume 7, for example, and we have such an abundance of 1959-60 riches related to Milton Caniff and his creation that we’ll likely do a feature in this space showcasing some of the artifacts that didn’t make the cut as the book gets closer to its on-sale date.

Sifting through the files I’ve amassed related to a couple other recent books, I saw some newspaper promotional ads that we didn’t use. Here’s a “Kigmy”-related ad supporting Li’l Abner, circa 1949:

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And from that same year, an ad that does double duty, both as a promotion for Abner and as a contest pushing Proctor & Gamble products:

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I’m also partial to this 1933 ad for Tim Tyler’s Luck that we found while preparing our jumbo-sized LOAC Essentials/King Features Essentials Volume 2 devoted to Alex Raymond’s brief-but-memorable stint on that series.

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Seeing those items, and given my own soft spot for this type of material, I thought I’d sift through a batch of newspapers and see what other comic strip promotional ads I could find. The earliest one I located was from the year of the stock market crash, 1929, and is hyping Percy Crosby’s delightful and influential kids strip, Skippy:

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Fans of Gasoline Alley (myself included) may get a kick out of this 1930 advertisement, suggesting readers send in their summertime addresses and get the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette delivered while on vacation in order to stay current with events in the Wallet household:

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And I was delighted to find this 1934 ad from the Asheville, North Carolina Citizen as the paper prepared to bring Little Orphan Annie into its lineup of daily comics. The ad symbolically reminds readers how “Daddy” Warbucks’s red-haired charge typically ends up in hot water :

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Not every ad was as elaborate as the Annie, of course. In 1940, when this ad promoting the Golden Age Superman was appearing in client newspapers across America, The Man of Tomorrow was scarcely two years old. How many readers in 1940 could have imagined the strange visitor from planet Krypton would still be entertaining millions, more than seventy-five years after this modest advertisement saw print?

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The sophistication and graceful action shown in this 1952 ad for Rip Kirby strikes me as resonating very closely with what Alex Raymond was presenting on the comics page as he chronicled the adventures of the ’50’s first modern detective:

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One of the strips I always enjoyed as a youngster was Andy Capp. I liked the “Englishness” of his world, its rough-and-tumble nature, and I’m heartened that Andy has successfully continued his visits to the local more than a decade after his creator’s death (Reg Smythe passed away in 1998). The copy in this 1967 ad from the Pittsburgh Press certainly reflects the tenor of those “Swingin’ Sixties” times, doesn’t it?

9_ANDY CAPP Ad_1967

Finally, here’s a March, 1971 ad for Doonesbury, only five months into its existence. It serves as a reminder of how the art style, themes, and characters in this sprawling, sometimes controversial, sometimes powerful, always-worth-reading strip have changed!

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Keep watching this space, because we’ll be back soon with, as the Monty Python troupe used to say, “something completely different” …

A perfect fit

We received an advance copy of the fifth volume of LOAC Essentials — reprising the rare complete 1930 dailies of Harry Tuthill’s The Bungle Family. It will be in stores in a few weeks. We particularly like the way it fits on a shelf next to Big Little Books. In fact, Dean tells us that he specifically designed LOAC Essentials to be the same height as the old BLBs.

Next up in the series is another volume of George Herriman’s Baron Bean, containing the complete 1917 strips.

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Bungle Me This!

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In his Introduction to the upcoming LOAC Essentials Vol. 5, comics historian Paul Tumey writes of Harry J. Tuthill’s comic strip:

“The Bungle Family offers no daily punch-line or slapstick pratfall typical of a humorous American comic strip from the 1920s and 1930s—just a slow, steady boil. The strip is populated with decidedly non-heroic characters who are greedy, gossipy, and grouchy—the sort of people one might cross the street to avoid. George and Josephine Bungle are perpetually involved in a seemingly endless succession of small-minded squabbles, punctuated with shameless scrambles for the riches and status that would allow them to claw their way up from their lower middle class purgatory. George Bungle apparently never met a neighbor with whom he couldn’t start a feud, a wealthy relative who didn’t captivate him, or a new business idea he wasn’t convinced would let him ‘put one over on Wall Street.'”

It’s one of those strips that can’t be sampled by one or two dailies in a History of Comics compendium. When we finally added long stretches of the strip to the Library’s collection, I sat down to read them and—oh, my—was I hooked. I’ve never read anything like it. The Bungle Family may be obscure but it’s certainly a strip that is essential reading. We hope you give it a try when it’s released in early summer.

Here’s where the book begins (click on strips for a larger image)…

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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.

 

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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.

Kitty on Top!

We’ve been so busy working on the first volumes of Tarzan and Superman that we let a book dear to our hearts slip through the cracks. Now that Tarzan is at the printer, we can turn our attention to the third volume of LOAC Essentials.

We all know how wonderful Cliff Sterrett’s Sundays Polly and Her Pals were, but few people—including us—have seen long runs of his equally surrealistic daily strips. It’s easier to find his early ’20s dailies than it is his prime strips from the late ’20s and early ’30s. Last year we were fortunate enough to locate King Features syndicate proofs for 1933. And that set will be printed as LOAC Essentials Volume 3. These strips are a rare treasure indeed!

Plus, Bruce Canwell made a trip up to Maine and uncovered fascinating details about Sterrett’s life at the Ogunquit artist colony. Look for it in late July/early August.

 
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Essentially yours

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Our advance copy of LOAC Essentials 2: The Gumps arrived by FedEx today. After all the time and effort we put into a new book, there’s still nothing as rewarding as opening a box to see the first copy off the presses. This one holds a double thrill in that it’s the second book in a series and we get to line it up on our bookcase spine-side out and imagine how it will look when we have five “Essentials” off the presses…and better still, when there are ten books in the series. For now, though, there are just two. The Gumps will be in store in about a month.

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Once again, size DOES matter

Now that LOAC Essentials Vol. 2—featuring the 1928-29 Gumps storyline that forever changed comics—is at the printer, we’re putting everything back where it belongs. When Jared Gardner, the fearless editor of the book, had some 1928 daily clipped strips on the table, he noticed how much larger they seemed than the comics in his current daily newspaper. He thought we’d all like to see the sad tale of Then vs. Now. Helps illustrate the point why we produce these archival collections in the first place—and why you buy them, doesn’t it? (Click on the page for a larger view.)

Seven to one, folks. Pretty bad odds. Gumps

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