Sunday, Jul 27th, 2014

A Trifecta: LOAC Sweeps the Eisners

We're very humbled this weekend after winning three Eisner Awards at this year's San Diego Comic-Con International. On behalf of everyone at LOAC, as well as the Alex Toth and Russ Manning families, we thank the Eisner voters for these great honors.

Genius, Illustrated: The Life and Art of Alex Toth won two awards: Best Comics-Related Book and Best Publication Design.

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Edgar Rice Burroughs's Tarzan: The Complete Russ Manning Newspaper Strips won the Best Archival Comic Strip Collection award, beating our other nominee in the same category—Percy Crosby's Skippy.

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It was a good night for LOAC, as well as parent company IDW. For the first time, we collectively led all publishers in Eisner wins. Here's Dean, accepting the Eisner for Genius, Illustrated on behalf of himself and his co-author Bruce Canwell.

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Here's Dean and Art Director Lorraine Turner accepting the award for Russ Manning's Tarzan.

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With IDW's Scott Dunbier:

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Earlier in the day at the IDW booth:

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And the Classic Comics panel. From left: IDW's Greg Goldstein, Dean, Scott, Eric Reynolds of Fantagraphics, Peter Maresca of Sunday Press Books, and off camera: Michael Martens of Dark Horse and Craig Yoe of Yoe Books.

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Monday, Jul 21st, 2014

A new imprint from LOAC and IDW

Dean Mullaney posted by Dean Mullaney

As if we weren't busy enough with LOAC releases, we're gearing up for the December premiere of a new imprint—EuroComics. As the name suggestions, it will release English-language editions of the best in European graphic novels…starting with the greatest of them all—Hugo Pratt's Corto Maltese. Corto is, in my opinion, one of the ten best comics series ever created. It's also the first "adult" graphic novel series, adult in the sense of being told from an adult perspective—not, for example, simply by using sex and other elements to shock and make a point.

As Hugo Pratt brilliantly outlined the character—at age ten, when Corto Maltese was told by a gypsy palm reader that he had no fate line, the boy grabbed his father's razor and made a deep and bloody line across his palm, declaring to the world that we would make his own fate, that he would control his own destiny.

It can be said that in 1967, when Pratt introduced Corto in the epic adventure "The Ballad of the Salty Sea," he too announced to the world that he was making his own fate, that he would control his own creative destiny.

Long before the term "graphic novel" entered the popular lexicon—ten years before Will Eisner's A Contract with God, two decades before Maus was awarded a Pulitzer Prize and Watchmen and The Dark Knight Returns became college texts—Hugo Pratt pioneered the long-form "drawn literature" story. "I'm a writer who draws and an illustrator who writes," was how Pratt described himself.

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Corto Maltese set the standard for all adult adventure comics in Europe—and by extension, around the world. By the mid-1970s it was the continent's most popular series and Hugo Pratt the world's leading graphic novelist.

Kim Thompson once summed up the Pratt's historical importance: "Corto Maltese was the first European strip to advance a mature, artistically serious sensibility within the traditional adventure format. The elliptical narrative of the stories, the pervasive sense of destiny and tragedy, the side trips into the worlds of dreams and magic-all capped off with the exotic, guarded nature of the hero-combined with Pratt's hard-won craft, worldly experience, and scrupulous research to form a work of breathtaking scope and power."

Pratt's books remain best-sellers in Europe and are published in a dozen languages. His work was the subject of a major art show in 2011 at the Pinacotheque in Paris, which hailed Pratt as "the inventor of the literary comic strip" and drew 215,000 visitors. Yet until now, Corto Maltese has been poorly represented in English. A partial and second-hand translation (from the French) by NBM was published in the 1980s and the reformatting of the 2012 edition of "Ballad" met with resistance from readers who wanted to see the comics in their unadulterated format.

We're going to change all that by presenting Corto the way Hugo Pratt intended. We're fortunate to work with Patrizia Zanotti, Pratt's long-time collaborator. Together we have gone through all the different files that the French/Belgian publisher Casterman has and we've identified the ones with the absolute truest reproduction of the black-and-white art. Each book will feature a new translations from Pratt's original Italian scripts by Simone Castaldi and yours truly. Simone is an Associate Professor of Romance Languages and Literatures at Hofstra, and the author of the authoritative Drawn and Dangerous: Italian Comics of the 1970s and 1980s (published by the University Press of Mississippi).

For those who aren't familiar with Hugo Pratt and Corto Maltese, you have a great treat in front of you. For those—like me—who until now have only read what's been available in English, there's a similar treat in seeing Corto done to the same standards as our books about Milton Caniff and Alex Toth, two of Pratt's influences.

We'll release the complete Corto Maltese in a series of twelve quality trade paperbacks in Pratt's original oversized B&W format.

The first of the twelve volumes, Corto Maltese: Under the Sign of Capricorn, to be published December 2014, collects the first six inter-connected short stories Pratt created in France in the early 1970s: "The Secret of Tristan Bantam," "Rendez-vous in Bahia," "Sureshot Samba," "The Brazilian Eagle," "So Much for Gentlemen of Fortune," and "The Seagull's Fault."

The second volume, Corto Maltese: Beyond the Windy Isles, collects the subsequent five stories, and will be released Spring 2015. We'll work our way to the end of the series and then publish the earliest adventures: "The Ballad of the Salty Sea" and "The Early Years."

The complete series will also be released in a matched set of six original art-sized limited edition hardcovers, each containing the equivalent of two of the trade paperbacks.

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Saturday, Jul 19th, 2014

Pree-senting—Stories in Super-Scope

canwellposted by Bruce Canwell

One of the benefits superhero fans and students of comics history enjoy as a result of LOAC's teaming with DC is the ability to read the same basic story and plot structure presented in two different formats - the original comic book version, and the "Earth N" version that ran in the newspaper strip version.

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It's easy to find the newspaper versions - check out our Superman: The Silver Age Dailies releases - and our friends at DC have made it easy to read several of the comic book stories thanks to their Archives program.

Released just a few months ago, DC's third Superman: The Man of Tomorrow Archives volume contains the original versions of no less than five of the stories for which we have printed the newspaper versions. Man of Tomorrow Archives includes, from our first Superman dailies volume:

  • Jerry Siegel and Al Plastino's "The Super-Clown of Metropolis!"
  • "The Captive of the Amazons!", also written by Siegel, with art by Wayne Boring and Stan Kaye.
  • And Kaye's inks over Curt Swan, illustrating Otto Binder's "The Superman of the Future!", first published in Action Comics # 256.

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Man of Tomorrow Archives Volume 3 also contains the comics version of a pair of stories we carried in our Superman Dailies Volume 2:

  • "The Super Luck of Badge 77," a Binder/Plastino collaboration.
  • And, from Action # 257, Binder/Boring/Kaye's "The Reporter of Steel!"

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Being able to compare and contrast these five stories by reading the alternate versions contained in these three volumes is one more piece of evidence that this is the Golden Age of comics scholarship. Between DC's Archives, Marvel's Masterworks, The Library of American Comics, and the many other comic book and newspaper strip reprint projects underway from publishers too numerous to mention, an unprecedented amount of the medium's history is once again in print and available for interested readers to savor. At the end of his introduction to Superman: Silver Age Dailies Volume 1, scholar of all things Kryptonian Sidney Friedfertig concluded, "It's a great time to be a Superman fan." I'll agree with Sid and add that it's a great time to be a comics fan, with the LOAC/DC collaboration offering an invaluable window into link between comic strips and comic books.

Here's a preview of Pete Poplaski's cover to Volume Three of the Silver Age Dailies, scheduled for release in December.

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Tuesday, Jul 15th, 2014

Alex Toth, Genius Slipcases Pre-Order!

In answer to the many inquiries from Alex Toth fans about the slipcase for the Alex Toth, Genius trilogy, we're happy to announce not one but two versions!

1. For those who have already bought the books, we're producing a special limited edition slipcase with a signed and numbered "library card" that can be placed in your previously purchased first book of the series. This Limited Edition Slipcase and Library Card set is exclusively available in the IDW online store and limited to advance orders. This listing is for the Slipcase & Library Card set only; no books are included. It's our "thank you" to readers who've bought each book as it was published. The Slipcase and Library Card set will tentatively be available for shipment in late October 2014.

You can pre-order at the IDW online store.

The slipcase artwork features Alex Toth sketches on both sides; the library card features a previously unpublished pencil sketch of the Fox. The library card is signed by authors Dean Mullaney and Bruce Canwell.

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2. For those who haven't yet bought the books, the complete three-book set will be available in October in a standard edition slipcase featuring an Alex Toth self portrait.

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Saturday, Jul 12th, 2014

What Fools These Mortals Be

With those immortal words Puck magazine skewered hypocracy, crooked politicians, and anyone trying to take advantage of the working man for forty years beginning in 1877. Everyone who loves comics has heard of Puck and wil recognize it as the source from which the comics field eventually grew. Most people have seen a few examples of the magazine's cartoons here and there, but not until now has there been a massive full-color retrospective of the most important humor and cartooning magazine in American history. We are all in debt to Michael Alexander Kahn and Richard Samuel West for sharing their personal complete collections of the magazine's forty-year run. They have selected the best of Puck's full-color cartoons and have organized them by subject matter, providing explanatory captions that place the work in historical perspective.

The book will premiere in early October with a foreword by Calvin and Hobbes' Bill Watterson.

Here are a few few pages to whet your appetite.

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