Wednesday, Jul 27th, 2011
The Distinctive Taste of Champagne
Our Champagne Edition releases are bubbling up all sorts of interesting results.
The first of these oversized releases—Polly and Her Pals, Volume 1—is clearly the biggest, brightest reprint showcase ever to contain the antics of the Perkins clan. Jeet Heer and the crack Library of American Comics research team dug deeper than anyone has previously dug and the result was Jeet's lengthy biographical essay, presenting the most comprehensive look ever at Polly and the strip's creator, cartoonist Cliff Sterrett. Jeet's text presents readers with more information about Sterrett—his boyhood, interests, family, friendships, and background—than has ever been available before. The book's introduction, by artistic luminary P. Craig Russell, is the cherry atop the sundae.
The combination of Sterrett's brilliant Sunday pages, Jeet's prose, and Craig's insightful intro helped Polly and Her Pals earn two Eisner Award nominations this year…and our next Champagne Edition release looks to be equally special.
We're deep into the preparation of our inaugural Flash Gordon and Jungle Jim release, running Jim as the "topper" to Flash, just as King Features designed them to appear when the syndicate launched both in January 1934. The two strips have never been reprinted together in this manner for the span of their Raymond-era run, and they also benefit from the 12" x 16" Champagne size and the detailed color restoration work LOAC production personnel are currently doing.
In addition, we have once again succeeded in uncovering new, heretofore unreported information about the men behind the imagery. I've written seven thousand words for Flash/Jim Vol. 1, including the first-ever detailed biography of Don Moore, who provided the text that accompanied Alex Raymond's often-breathtaking visuals.
My features don't answer all the questions, as you'll see when you read them. We have, however, reached out to the pulp-fan community and been fortunate to receive invaluable research assistance from historian John Locke. Together, John and I pieced together a portrait that includes a U.S. Marshall in Iowa; a boyhood trip to London; the Sells-Floto Circus; a rebellion in the quaint little town of Cooperstown, New York; the befriending of Navy SEALS; and unfortunately, a tragic suicide. If a mix like that doesn't whet your appetite, you might want to check your pulse…
The first in our four-volume Flash Gordon and Jungle Jim series will be on sale this fall. Like Polly and Her Pals, it offers that distinctive taste of Champagne to LOAC readers.
posted by Bruce Canwell
Tuesday, Jul 26th, 2011
Where there's a Will…
As usual at the Will Eisner Awards, there was intense competition in the "Best Archival Comic Strip Collection" category; in fact, we were even competing against ourselves—both Bob Montana's Archie and Cliff Sterrett's Polly and Her Pals earned nominations. As you can tell by the above cover, Archie took home the honors. It's the third win in four years for the Library of American Comics, and we appreciate the continued support from you, our loyal readers.
With the busy San Diego Comicon over, it's back to our drawing boards and computers. Deadlines loom ahead!
posted by Dean Mullaney
Tuesday, Jul 19th, 2011
San Diego Comicon
It's that time of year again so we're off to San Diego and four days of non-stop action. Whoo-boy, hold on to your hats.
I'll be at the IDW booth (2643) most of the time, so stop by and say hello. We'll have advance copies of our latest artbook: CANIFF. I also have a busy schedule of panels. Join Chester Brown and me on the Little Orphan Annie panel, 5:30-6:30pm, room 8. I'll also be on the IDW Special Projects and Imprints panel (11:00am-noon, room 24 ABC) talking about some of our upcoming books (Flash Gordon, Chuck Jones: The Dream That Never Was, and more!).
I'm also privileged to participate in two panels very dear and important to me.
On Friday, I will help pay tribute to the beloved Gene Colan (noon-1:00pm, room 24ABC), joining Marv Wolfman, Roy Thomas, Glen David Gold, Andrew Farago, and Mark Evanier. Gene and I first worked together way back in 1979 when he pencilled (and Tom Palmer inked) Steve Gerber's Stewart the Rat graphic novel.
On Saturday I have the pleasure to get together with Jenny Robb, Gary Groth, Trina Robbins, and Andrew Farago to commemorate our great friend, Bill Blackbeard (11:30am-12:30pm, room 24ABC).
I'll also be at the Eisner Awards among friends, including the ever lovely Diana Schutz, and Ted Adams and the IDW gang. LOAC's s nominated for three awards: Polly and Her Pals and Archie are pitted against each other in the Best Archival Comic Strip category, and Lorraine Turner and yours truly are nominated for Best Publication Design for Polly.
See you there, folks!
posted by Dean Mullaney
Friday, Jul 8th, 2011
Cat Fights Now in Color
Our new Miss Fury: Sensational Sundays release represents not only a benchmark in The Library of American Comics's history, but proof of why this is the golden age of comic strip reprints.
Back in 2007, when Dean and I were launching LOAC, we kicked around a number of titles we'd like to reprint, and Miss Fury was on that list. The first female costumed hero created by a female cartoonist? That seemed worth re-introducing to modern-day audiences. Personally, I was intrigued by Tarpé Mills's story, and charmed by the work I had already seen—earlier that year, a company had released black-&-white reprinting of the comic book reprints of the divine Miss F., informing us that "each panel has been slightly altered to fingerprint this  edition."
A page from the 2007 reprinting of Miss Fury# 3, formatted for comic books in the 1940s, then further "fingerprinted" for the 2007 collection.
Now, four years later, here we are, with Miss Fury almost always in full "living color" (as the major TV networks used to love bragging during my boyhood), just as she appeared in the newspapers of the 1940s. No messy fingerprints, no re-edited versions…the pure strip—with all its adventure, gentle kinkiness, and high fashion intact—just the way Tarpé Mills created it.
The same page as it originally appeared in the newspapers—you'll find it on page 15 of our Miss Fury: Sensational Sundays.
That LOAC and its friendly competitors are able to release such material, and that you continue to enthusiastically support it, helps prove that together, we're forging that strip reprint Golden Age I mentioned earlier.
Here's hoping you enjoy Miss Fury as much as I did!
posted by Bruce Canwell
Tuesday, Jul 5th, 2011
Remembering Lew Sayre Schwartz
There are tears in my eyes as I begin this, a notice I would wish never to write.
Lew Sayre Schwartz has passed away at age eighty-four.
I read the headline; it took me several moments to realize the loud, sorrowful cry filling the room was my own. As I type this sentence, I am three hours away from a week-long trip abroad, and I had a long list of things to do before driving to the airport. A key item on my list was to call Lew and arrange a time when we could next get together.
We had spoken in May and I was rushing against a deadline, and Lew said he needed one of our Rip Kirby volumes, so I told him I would get that for him, then come out for a visit as soon as I got the book and delivered the piece I was writing.
I have the book and I met the deadline, but it hurts me so, so much to know I'm too late for the visit.
* * * * *
Lew with Batton Lash at the San Diego Comicon
Lew found us through the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum at Ohio State. He had acquired our first Terry and the Pirates releases and contacted Jenny Robb at the Cartoon Library, asking her if she had contact information for us. Jenny passed his message along to Dean and after a few exchanges of e-mails and phone calls, in the process learning that Lew resided in a town slightly more than an hour's drive from where I live, Dean and I got together to make our first trip to Lew's.
He and his wife Barbara were welcoming and gracious, the perfect hosts in every way. Lew showed us the adaptation of Moby Dick he had created with Dick Giordano, and was generous in praising our efforts on Terry, and delighted to hear about our then-upcoming Scorchy Smith and The Art of Noel Sickles. He shared with us his own collection of Sickles material, accumulated through the years, and he loaned us a copy of his 1981 film tribute to Milton Caniff, Reflections of an Armchair Marco Polo, which is must-viewing for any Caniff devotee. It had Dean and me babbling excitedly to one another after we had each had the opportunity to view it. More than a year later, while writing the final essay for Terry Volume 6, the closing narration from Reflections, which Lew had written for Walter Cronkite to deliver, seemed the perfect coda. After he saw the book in early 2009, Lew never failed to tell me how much enjoyment he took in having the final word, as it were, in our series. It was my great pleasure to give it to him.
After that initial visit, I phoned Lew often and visited his and Barbara's home close to a half-dozen times, breaking bread with them on two occasions. Whenever I walked through their door I was treated with kindness and I learned a great deal, as Lew told stories from his days at King Features and his later work in film. He passed along anecdotes from his face-to-face encounters with the Caniffs, Raymonds, and Sickleses of the comic strip firmament; he showed me the works he had collected by the likes of Roy Crane. I would bring him our latest releases, and he was always unfailing in his praise of our work. During another visit, either in fall of 2009 or springtime of 2010, Lew surprised me with a gift of his own—a copy of DC's hardcover Batman Annuals reprints, which included stories he had drawn in his days as the first of Bob Kane's ghost artists. A connection to Batman is another thread Lew and I shared, since I wrote a handful of Bat-stories in the late 1990s. He was always proud of the fact no less a talent than Eddie Campbell publicly praised his Batman work, and it is fitting that Eddie produced the industry's tribute to Lew, which can be found here.
Lew Sayre Schwartz was a fine artist and writer, an award-winning filmmaker, and an enthusiastic ambassador for the comics. But first and foremost, I think of Lew Sayre Schwartz as the warm and funny and thoroughly delightful man I have been proud to call my friend.
And now I feel the tears coming again, so before my view of the screen becomes a total blur, I'll say, "Safe passage, Lew—I know Bud and Pappy and Roy are mighty glad to see you again."
posted by Bruce Canwell
Friday, Jul 1st, 2011
Chuck Jones: The Dream That Never Was
We all harbor a secret wish that we could find a previously unseen project by one of the greatest figures in animation history.
Well, wish no more—celebrating the 2012 centennial of Chuck Jones's birth, we at the Library of American Comics will unveil Chuck Jones: The Dream That Never Was.
The Academy Award-winning director of "Duck Amuck," "What's Opera, Doc," "How The Grinch Stole Christmas," and other timeless classics, created dozens of cartoon characters throughout his decades-long career: Pepé Le Pew, Marvin the Martian, Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote...and Crawford, an accident prone, nine-year-old boy whose daily routine includes surviving his own boyhood.
Chuck Jones: The Dream That Never Was follows the twenty-seven year journey it took Jones to bring "Crawford" to the public, from conception to storyboard to newspaper strip. This incredible volume is loaded with never-before-seen sketches, drawings, storyboards and production notes, and the six-month run of the Crawford newspaper comic strip from 1978. Accompanying the artwork is a biography of Chuck Jones's career in the sixties and seventies and how it influenced the creation of Chuck's only foray into the world of comic strips.
The book will reproduce twenty-six pages of rare storyboards, such as these!
Produced with the full coöperation of the Chuck Jones family, the book was conceived by Kurtis Finday, who says, "My first surprise when I started researching the Crawford comic strip was how little people knew about it. My second surprise was the treasure trove of Chuck Jones art we would find. Crawford just kept popping up in places I didn't expect, making the history of this little-known character incredibly rich." The book is edited by Findlay and Dean Mullaney, and designed by Lorraine Turner.
Here are several of Chuck Jones's sketches:
The original artwork for two of his daily strips:
And one of his Sunday color guides for the engravers:
And these are just a handful of samples of what's in the book. Chuck Jones: The Dream That Never Was is a dream come true in that almost all the art is being reproduced from Chuck Jones's originals! It is a gold mine of previously unknown artwork that is a must for all fans of animation and comics. This hardcover archival edition will be released in November.
posted by Dean Mullaney