Forward—Into the Past

Every so often we like to have a little fun in this space by “inverting the equation” —instead of looking at one series through time, the way most of our books are structured, we pick a moment in time and look at the various strips that were published on that date. Step into the time machine, if you will, and feast your eyes on these selections from April 2, 1947, when Dick Tracy was doing his proto-CSI number; Milton Caniff offered echoes of Raven Sherman as his firstSteve Canyon continuity rocketed to its climax; Rip Kirby was comforting Pagan, who was caught in the amoral vice of sharpster “Fingers” Moray; Li’l Abner drops the name of Lena the Hyena as he bemoans the loss of his “ideel;” and Bob Montana serves up perhaps his most notoriousArchie daily of all …







This exercise always tickles us, making us wonder if some local paper with a name like the Times-Picayune or American-Register might have run a comics page like this and if so, what the citizens in that paper’s hometown thought about such a line-up. For most, surely, it was merely a few minutes’ respite from the day’s tasks, but could any of them have imagined that they were reading work that would endure? They lined bird cages and trash cans with their dated newspapers, after all, so how could it have crossed their minds that their children and grandchildren would be able to read the same 1947 comic strips they were reading, preserved in hardcover editions? And while most Big Name Comics Creators have gladly expounded on the artists like Raymond and Caniff who inspired them or somehow influenced their work, we find ourselves wondering how many other readers went on to build their lives around careers in advertising art or drafting or as newspapermen, inspired at least in part by their daily exposure toRip or Canyon or other strips.

The accumulated influence of comics must be greater than we typically stop to consider – and based on the number of would-be storytellers who show up at conventions each year, portfolios or samples at the ready, that influence goes on … and on.


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