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.
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.
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 —