As you may have seen if you visit our various social media platforms, during 2019 The Library of American Comics is on pace to release its 200th volume. We call this the “LOAC Road to 200,” and we plan to celebrate our fast-approaching milestone in a number of ways as this still-new-year unfolds.
One new feature we’re adding to this space to mark the LOAC Road to 200: our very own LOAC Wheel of Fortune! Each month we’ll load an electronic wheel with a selection of our past titles, give it a virtual spin, see which title the wheel selects, and spend a bit of time discussing it.
The arrival of the “big” 2018 Christmas gift I received from my siblings (as discussed here) put superheroes in my mind for two reasons. Reason the First: Without those 1970s Marvel Comics letters pages, in which Dean and I regularly appeared, offering words of comment about the Marvel mags of the day, the chain of events that helped create The Library of American Comics may have never come to pass. Reason the Second: Roughly ten percent of our two-hundred-title output is devoted to such characters — from the comic-strip versions of DC’s “trinity” (Superman, Wonder Woman, Batman) to the long-running newspaper feature headlined by Marvel’s most popular character, the Amazing Spider-Man, to the Bell Syndicate’s Miss Fury (the first lady costumed hero created by a female cartoonist, Tarpe Mills). Factor in that one of our first 2019 releases on the LOAC Road to 200 will be the fifth volume of Spider-Man and it made lots of sense (to me, at least) to load the LOAC superhero books into the wheel …
… Give ‘er a spin, and see which book came up! In this inaugural spin, it was —
This December, 2016 release featured another of Pete Poplaski’s astounding “homage” covers, both on the dustjacket and the covers of the book itself. The delights of Pete’s cover artistry are eclipsed only by the eleven stories that comprise the interior of this volume, featuring work by The Man of Tomorrow’s original creators, Joe Shuster and Jerry Siegel! Another of the classic Super-artists, Wayne Boring, also has a significant amount of work on display in these pages, which feature some rare stories in which Superman is involved in World War Two action (Hitler, Mussolini, and Hirohito all appear in a single panel of the March 7, 1942 daily!), plus the first-published appearance of Mr. Mxyztplk. Jerry Siegel had written the 5th Dimensional imp’s first misadventure for publication in an issue of Superman comics, but then-comic-strip writer Whit Ellsworth had seen Siegel’s script and was so enthusiastic about “Myxie” that he wrote his own story pitting Superman against his newest opponent; the newspaper strip tale beat the comic book yarn into print. (Mxyztplk has remained popular to this day, having starred in one of the stories featured in last year’s Action Comics # 1000, written by Paul Dini, with art by the always-spectacular Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez.) John Wells rounded out the entire package by offering our readers a solid and informative text feature.
Dean has mentioned a time or two that the Superman newspaper strips must surely number among the rarest in the long line of Man of Steel collectibles, since copies of the feature are so rare — the presence of the Superman comic book seems to have satisfied the needs of many comics fans, discouraging them from clipping the strip the way so many other newspaper features were saved. Being able to locate and collect so much of this material has been one of LOAC’s many important contributions to comics preservation, and we are indebted to everyone who has contributed to this project.
That brings down the curtain on our first LOAC Wheel of Fortune installment. We’ll load the wheel with a batch of other Library of American Comics titles in February and give it another spin as we continue to drive at top speed down the LOAC Road to 200!