I know, I know — I said I had something planned for September, so we’d do our second humor-based spin of the LOAC Wheel of Fortune later in the autumn. I weighed the options and decided the idea I had for September would work even better if I held it back until October. That certainly appealed to me, since now I had a clear path to doing our focus on our funniest “funnies” in back-to-back installments. Hoo-hah!
You’ll notice that just before and just after our fiftieth release, we offered two delightful single-volume books, Cartoon Monarch: Otto Soglow and the Little King and that splendid rare find, Chuck Jones: The Dream That Never Was. (I visited the Chuck Jones Gallery during a June visit to San Diego — a highly-recommended destination, if you’re a Jones-booster like me!) I also like to count myself in the forefront of Cliff Sterrett fans, so it’s a grand pleasure that we have offered readers Polly and Her Pals in two beautiful oversized “Champagne Edition” offerings, plus a year’s worth of dailies from 1933 in one of our LOAC Essentials books. Like Blondie, the earliest installments of The Family Circus are something I’m proud we’ve collected and preserved for 21st Century audiences. The humor offerings in our second hundred titles is weighted toward Walt Disney offerings, and notice that as the year has progressed, as Silly Symphonies Volume 4 indicates, our march toward our 200th Library of American Comics book is getting mighty close to that goal. Here’s the list, in order of release:
After a bit of the ol’ round and round, the LOAC Wheel for September stops here:
It was the “Gladstone” line of comics that really sharpened my focus on Disney’s comics output — it was there I amassed a significant chunk of Gottfredson Mickey Mouse, Barks “Duck” tales (ho-ho), and was introduced to the works of Don Rosa, William Van Horn, Daan Jippes, and … Al Taliaferro. The sprinkling of Donald Duck newspaper strips Gladstone regularly sprinkled into their titles struck me as compact little comedic gems that often emphasized “Unca Donald’s” key characteristics: his fiery temper, his role as a foil who gets one-upped at the end of the gag, his perseverance and his laziness (few are the fictional characters who combine those two traits as successfully as does Donald!). Those comic strip samples left me wanting more — and now, all these years later, The Library of American Comics has given us all just that.
Al Taliaferro’s Ducks are pleasantly rounded and full of life — every cast member in one of his strips is a terrific “actor.” He and writer Bob Karp built an easy rhythm that they sustained year after year after year. And their seven-days-a-week offerings played a role in sustaining Donald’s popularity — the strip launched in early 1938, rotated supporting players into and out of the spotlight, and — as the September 1964 installment below shows, starring an un-Barks-like Uncle $crooge — it was still smartly clicking along almost four decades later:
In the often-trying times of the 21st Century, a pleasant little chuckle is often a welcome tonic. When I want a ten-minute pick-me-up, I often turn to one of our Donald Duck books and sample a handful of pages, letting Taliaferro and Karp tickle my funny bone and recharge my energy, allowing me to dive back into my day.
All of which is a somewhat somber end to a look at our humorous titles, but don’t worry — next month I’ll probably make a wisecrack if our October LOAC Wheel spin lands on a serious book!