The LOAC Road to 200: February’s LOAC Wheel of Fortune

As promised when we announced the drive toward our two hundredth release, we’ve loaded a handful of our previous books into the LOAC Wheel of Fortune, given it a spin, and will offer a few thoughts and recollections regarding the book selected by the wheel.

There are a number of ways to view a backlist as robust as ours: last month we spun the wheel based on only our superhero releases. This time we’re taking a different approach by spinning on all the books previously released in the month of February. Since we have our backlist captured in a table, it was a simple matter to sort on the second month, yielding this list:

It’s hard for me to believe our first Batman release is already five years old!  Equally hard to believe Eddie Campbell’s Goat Getters rolled off the printing presses a full year ago — it sure doesn’t seem like that much time has passed to us!

But the facts don’t lie, so we loaded up the wheel …

… And gave ‘er a spin. The result was:

We didn’t expect the first book on our list of February releases to become the prevailing selection, but it goes to show the unpredictability of the wheel. And just as this second turn of the wheel was based on a different perspective than our inaugural spin, the second LOAC Essentials took a different approach than its predecessor in fulfilling a key purpose of the imprint: bringing important-though-rarely-seen slices of comic strip history to modern-day audiences.

LOAC Essentials Volume 1 achieved its goal by spotlighting one of the artform’s still-revered creators, George Herriman, as we began to reprint the complete run of his Baron Bean. Essentials Volume 2 shifted gears and presented one of the seminal storylines that changed comics history: “The Saga of Mary Gold,” the 1928-29 continuity from Sid Smith’s Gumps.

The Gumps plays a crucial role in the development of the comic narrative forms we all grew up taking for granted, so Dean and I had long had an interest in bringing Andy and Minerva Gump and their gossipy, melodramatic, thoroughly entertaining entourage back into print — we just needed to find the proper way in which to do it. Once Dean had decided to launch our Essentials sub-category we almost immediately realized it would be an excellent vehicle for presenting a year of Gumps. The question then became: which of Sidney Smith’s many significant plotlines should we publish? We kicked around some options, but pretty quickly settled on the story of poor, tragic Mary Gold, whose fate shocked readers everywhere back in the days when America was a nation of readers. As Jared Gardner shared with us in his excellent Introduction, “papers across the country expressed the outrage of their readers” at the climax of Mary’s tale. Jared cited one editorial that said, “[Mary Gold] was a creation of the imagination … Yet, strangely enough, she seemed more real to hundreds of thousands of readers of The Gumps than those persons whom they were wont to meet in the every day walks of life.”

Might we return to The Gumps? Anything is possible, and certainly there are other topical stories from this series that would be of interest. Who knows? Maybe we’ll enliven some election year with the tale of Andy Gump’s run for President …

For now, however, we’re focused on the LOAC Road to 200, so join us in this space again next month for our third spin of the LOAC Wheel of Fortune.


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