The Lure of the Open Road

Even the holidays don’t bring the LOAC train to a halt, as the recent Thanksgiving weekend proved. The lovely and charming Mrs. Canwell and I were traveling, fifteen hundred miles away from home and on the road in a compact rental car in order to spend the long holiday weekend first with Krista’s mother and step-father, then with my mother. Those two parental units live roughly a hundred seventy miles apart and guess who lives between their respective residences? That’s right, LOAC Creative Director Dean Mullaney and Art Director Lorraine Turner themselves—so, with arrangements previously made, we came a’callin’ and a’knockin’ at Dean’s door (Lorraine was out of the country!).

During our tour of palatial Mullaney Mansion my wife was struck by the books filling the shelf space—Krista knows little about comics and cares even less about them, but she’s as big a bibliophile in her way as Dean and I are in ours, and the works of authors like Isaac Asimov and Peter S. Beagle caught her eye. When Dean and I began to talk shop she simply nestled in on the couch to read the latest release by Orson Scott Card, which she had brought along on the trip.

With Krista happily immersed in the third book of the Mithermages series, Dean and I covered LOAC business. That included a run-through of the 2016 schedule (more coming later in this space about those Coming Attractions!), a discussion of the writing assignments for Introductions on a handful of future releases, and consideration of potential contacts who may be able to help us fill a couple gaps in runs of strips we have mostly in hand and are considering reprinting.

I got to look at a batch of material Dean has gathered for projects that are already in the pipeline—the Silly Symphony artwork looks amazingly crisp and clean!—and checked out examples of things we might want to do in the future. (I’d never before seen such a large batch of full-size Hershfield’s Dauntless Durham of the U.S.A., for instance.)

With the sun setting across the water and with the cityscape in the background, we limbered up my camera and snapped some pictures to share with you. Here are LOAC’s own Mutt and Jeff, holding advance-printer’s copies of two soon-to-be-released books, Volume 2 of both The Amazing Spider-Man and Donald Duck:


While I’m mighty pleased with how Spidey Volume 2 turned out – I’m still deee-lighted by those Romita color Sundays!—I wanted to get a picture with me holding the second volume of Disney’s dyspeptic drake, so we coaxed Mrs. Canwell out from behind the camera, shuffled books into the appropriate hands, and grabbed this shot:


sneaked in for a quick peck on the missus’s cheek; you can see how she swooned at that … I look at this picture and recall the line spoken by Ed Asner, playing Lou Grant on an episode of The Mary Tyler Moore Show: “Some men excite women—I calm ’em down!”


All kidding aside, we had one major combination yet to exploit, so I stepped behind the shutter for this photo of Krista, now holding Donald, and Dean, showing off Spider-Man—you’d think these books were hot potatoes, the way we passed them around! (OK, OK, so it’s not all kidding aside …)

As night fell, and with my mother’s home still a two-hour drive away, it was time for Krista and me to get our rental car back on the road. With final talk of a 2016 visit to Ohio State University and The Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum (Jenny, Susan, Marilyn, and company, you have been forewarned—the pros from Dover shall return!), the Canwells bid Dean adieu…but not before Fed Ex showed up with two MORE soon-to-be-in-stores books:


We’re now back in New England. I’m hard at work on the introductory text for Li’l Abner Volume 8, with its focus on the infamous Al Capp/Ham Fisher feud (you do not want to miss this one!). The tans/burns Krista and I picked up over the holiday that you can see in the pictures are quickly fading. Still, our Thanksgiving junket was quite a success, and it was the generosity of all our hosts who helped make it so. To Dean and Krista’s family and my mother, then, my wife and I offer our sincere thanks.


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