Continuing our review of the first two hundred LOAC books, which began here, take a look at our fifty-first to one hundredth releases …
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 Kat; Alley 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!
Fifty-four years ago, on September 15, 1964, the New York World’s Fair marked “Steve Canyon Day” and honored the picaresque hero’s creator, Milton Caniff.
And why not? Caniff had spent most of that summer weaving a tale set at the Fair involving both Canyons, Steve and his collegiate cousin, Poteet. The World’s Fair, being staged in New York, was heavily covered by all major forms of media, and a Canyon storyline set at the huge exhibition was a promotional boon to several subscriber newspapers, as this ad from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch indicates:
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 …
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:
As a partial payback to Italy for providing the world with arguably the best of all cuisines, we can report that Italian readers can now enjoy the best of the best in American comics: Milton Caniff is being translated by our friends at Editoriale Cosmo in Reggio Emilia. Francesco Meo and company have begun reprinting both Terry and the Pirates and Steve Canyon (as well as Russ Manning’s Tarzan). I met with Francesco at the Angoulême festival last week, where he was also considering reprinting the old Eclipse Airboy comics by Tim Truman, Chuck Dixon, and friends.
— That’s where the fun is, Way Out!
And kudos to those who remember that lift from The Flintstones, but this announcement has nothing to do with the modern Stone Age family … although it does bring good news for fans of adventures set long ago in a galaxy far, far away …
The reactions to our four-volume Tarzan set showed how many of you like Russ Manning’s art. We like it, too, so we’re delighted to tell you that the Star Wars newspaper strip is coming to The Library of American Comics!
Starting in spring of 2017 with the first of a three-volume set, the battles between the Rebel Alliance and the evil Empire will be preserved between hard covers, as initially rendered by Manning (later to be followed by two other popular artists, Alfredo Alcala and Al Williamson), with stories provided by Manning and additional writers including another of our favorites, Steve Gerber (again, later, by the inimitable Archie Goodwin).
I won’t hard-sell you or offer up any corny lines about the Force being with us — I’ll just say we’ve navigated the long and winding path necessary to bring you the Star Wars strips many have requested, and we think you’ll like the results!
But that’s not all …
With Star Wars joining Star Trek and Beyond Mars in our LOAC line-up, there was one other major “space opera” strip we hoped to reprint, and we’re pleased to announce we’re turning those hopes into reality. Ladies and gentlemen, get ready for a trip to the Barnum star system —
Yes, Star Hawks will also be coming your way, starting in 2017! It’s the brainchild of science fiction author/comics historian Ron Goulart, who teamed with comic book artist extraordinaire Gil Kane to entertain newspaper audiences with lighthearted tales of SFnal derring-do featuring ILS officer Rex Jaxan, his stellar law-enforcement partner Chavez, their robot dog Sniffer, and their boss, the lovely Alice K. Star Hawks was produced in “two-tier” format — essentially the size of two daily comic strips — which allowed Kane to play with design and panel layout in ways that other newspaper adventure-strip artists could only envy, as shown in this example from the series’s debut :
Kane was recognized by the National Cartoonist Society for his work on Star Hawks, and when Ron Goulart departed the feature Archie Goodwin, Roger McKenzie, and Roger Stern followed him in succession as scripters. The daily also eventually shifted to the standard single-tier format, but ZAM!, Kane’s artwork still looks dynamic, and the fun quotient remains high throughout the life of the strip.
We hope you’ll join us for the LOAC debuts of Star Wars and Star Hawks, in what’s sure to be a science fictional (20)17!
The second volume of Russ Manning’s Tarzan newspaper strip is now officially at the printer. Here’s one of the photos in the book, taken in January 1971 by Clay Miller of the Orange CountyRegister, and graciously supplied by Russ’s daughter, Melissa Manning.