Monday, Oct 31st, 2011

The Black Bag Mystery Part 35

Here's the thirty-fifth installment of "The Black Bag Mystery" by Chester Gould! We're keeping all previous installments uploaded so you can refer back to them to help solve the mystery at the end! Don't miss the final chapter tomorrow!!!

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Dean Mullaney posted by Dean Mullaney

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Sunday, Oct 30th, 2011

The Black Bag Mystery Part 34

Here's the thirty-fourth installment of "The Black Bag Mystery" by Chester Gould! We're keeping all previous installments uploaded so you can refer back to them to help solve the mystery at the end!

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Saturday, Oct 29th, 2011

The Black Bag Mystery Part 33

Here's the thirty-third installment of "The Black Bag Mystery" by Chester Gould! We're keeping all previous installments uploaded so you can refer back to them to help solve the mystery at the end!

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Dean Mullaney posted by Dean Mullaney

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Friday, Oct 28th, 2011

Size DOES Matter

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If anyone had any doubts that our Flash Gordon/Jungle Jim series was going to be big, this picture of Lorraine Turner— the book's designer holding her handiwork—will dispel them. We just received our advance copy from the printer, which means it should be in stores in about four weeks. Time to break out the champagne!

Dean Mullaney posted by Dean Mullaney

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Friday, Oct 28th, 2011

The Black Bag Mystery Part 32

Here's the thirty-second installment of "The Black Bag Mystery" by Chester Gould! We're keeping all previous installments uploaded so you can refer back to them to help solve the mystery at the end!

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Dean Mullaney posted by Dean Mullaney

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Thursday, Oct 27th, 2011

The Black Bag Mystery Part 31

Here's the thirty-first installment of "The Black Bag Mystery" by Chester Gould! We're keeping all previous installments uploaded so you can refer back to them to help solve the mystery at the end!

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Dean Mullaney posted by Dean Mullaney

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Wednesday, Oct 26th, 2011

LOAC interviewed at Comic Book Resources

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Kurtis Findlay (co-editor of Chuck Jones: The Dream That Never Was) and I talk at length with Alex Deuben of Comic Book Resources about Chuck Jones, Flash Gordon and Jungle Jim, Milton Caniff, and much more. Read it here!

Dean Mullaney posted by Dean Mullaney

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Wednesday, Oct 26th, 2011

The Black Bag Mystery Part 30

Here's the thirtieth installment of "The Black Bag Mystery" by Chester Gould! We're keeping all previous installments uploaded so you can refer back to them to help solve the mystery at the end!

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Dean Mullaney posted by Dean Mullaney

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Tuesday, Oct 25th, 2011

The Black Bag Mystery Part 29

Here's the twenty-ninth installment of "The Black Bag Mystery" by Chester Gould! We're keeping all previous installments uploaded so you can refer back to them to help solve the mystery at the end!

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Dean Mullaney posted by Dean Mullaney

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Monday, Oct 24th, 2011

The Black Bag Mystery Part 28

Here's the twenty-eighth installment of "The Black Bag Mystery" by Chester Gould! We're keeping all previous installments uploaded so you can refer back to them to help solve the mystery at the end!

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Dean Mullaney posted by Dean Mullaney

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Sunday, Oct 23rd, 2011

The Black Bag Mystery Part 27

Here's the twenty-seventh installment of "The Black Bag Mystery" by Chester Gould! We're keeping all previous installments uploaded so you can refer back to them to help solve the mystery at the end!

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Dean Mullaney posted by Dean Mullaney

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Saturday, Oct 22nd, 2011

The Black Bag Mystery Part 26

Here's the twenty-sixth installment of "The Black Bag Mystery" by Chester Gould! We're keeping all previous installments uploaded so you can refer back to them to help solve the mystery at the end!

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Dean Mullaney posted by Dean Mullaney

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Friday, Oct 21st, 2011

The Black Bag Mystery Part 25

Here's the twenty-fifth installment of "The Black Bag Mystery" by Chester Gould! We're keeping all previous installments uploaded so you can refer back to them to help solve the mystery at the end!

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Dean Mullaney posted by Dean Mullaney

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Thursday, Oct 20th, 2011

The Black Bag Mystery Part 24

Here's the twenty-fourth installment of "The Black Bag Mystery" by Chester Gould! We're keeping all previous installments uploaded so you can refer back to them to help solve the mystery at the end!

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Dean Mullaney posted by Dean Mullaney

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Wednesday, Oct 19th, 2011

The Black Bag Mystery Part 23

Here's the twenty-third installment of "The Black Bag Mystery" by Chester Gould! We're keeping all previous installments uploaded so you can refer back to them to help solve the mystery at the end!

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Dean Mullaney posted by Dean Mullaney

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Tuesday, Oct 18th, 2011

The Black Bag Mystery Part 22

Here's the twenty-second installment of "The Black Bag Mystery" by Chester Gould! We're keeping all previous installments uploaded so you can refer back to them to help solve the mystery at the end!

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Dean Mullaney posted by Dean Mullaney

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Monday, Oct 17th, 2011

The Black Bag Mystery Part 21

Here's the twenty-first installment of "The Black Bag Mystery" by Chester Gould! We're keeping all previous installments uploaded so you can refer back to them to help solve the mystery at the end!

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Dean Mullaney posted by Dean Mullaney

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Sunday, Oct 16th, 2011

"Macon" Something Of It

Friends know I've been a Doc Savage fan since I was about ten years old, when I stood amidst the paperback racks at Day's Variety and decided to take a sixty-cent flyer on Bantam's fifty-fifth Doc reprint, The Golden Peril. That was no small gamble for my youthful self—after all, sixty cents bought four comic books back in those days! —but it turned out to be an excellent bet, since that particular adventure not only featured all of Doc's five intrepid aides, it also took them back to the country of Hidalgo and on to the hidden Valley of the Vanished for the first time since The Man of Bronze, the inaugural installment of the series.

It was, as we like to say today, a great jumping-on point, and I was along for the full ride: the ten-year-old in me remained sold on the bronze man and his friends through Bantam's ninety-six single-novel reprints, their fifteen "Doc double" collections, and their final thirteen multi-story "Omnibus" releases. The reprinting all 182 Doc Savage supersagas spanned four decades, from the 1960s to the 1990s, and I still think kindly of Bantam Books for seeing the project through to completion. Would any major publisher in the 21st Century show such dedication?

We'll likely never know the answer to that question, though a smaller publisher is busy once again reprinting Doc Savage, as well as the pulp exploits of The Shadow, The Avenger, and The Whisperer. For the past five years Anthony Tollin's Sanctum Books imprint has regularly released two, sometimes three, of Doc's exploits in "quality paperback-sized" editions that feature the pulps' original two-column format, as well as original interior illustrations by the likes of Paul Orban and the fantastic Edd Cartier; for the past five years, the ten-year-old in me has regularly seized control of my wallet.

Yes, once again I am buying Doc Savage reprints—it's worth supporting Sanctum Books as they keep the hero-pulp legacy alive, and even if I rarely find time to re-read one of the novels—"Someday," I always promise myself, "someday…"—I always find the "extras" in each volume of great interest.

Yes, like The Library of American Comics, Sanctum Books includes text features in each of their books. (They also occasionally run radio scripts from the title character's various broadcast incarnations, or pieces on their translations into comics format, or non-series short stories the authors placed in other outlets, but for today, my focus is on Sanctum's non-fiction text features.) Pulp historian Will Murray does the honors, and his work reflects his years of detailed research into the genesis and evolution of the hero pulps, as well as his unique position as executor of the estate of Lester Dent, the primary author of the Doc Savage series.

Imagine my surprise, while reading Will's July 2011 "Intermission" article in the forty-ninth Sanctum Doc Savage paperback, at realizing his work and mine had crossed paths!

That July release contained reprints of The Terror in the Navy and Waves of Death. Terror, Will informed us in his piece, was written in December, 1935 (though originally published sixteen months later, in April of '37). The story deals with a mysterious force that threatens to wreck America's naval forces, and Will points out that Lester Dent based this plot on the then-famous Honda Point accident of 1923, when seven American destroyers ran aground. Will gives an informative summary of the event, "the largest peacetime naval disaster in U.S. history," then goes on to describe three famous military air incidents spanning the years 1923 through 1935, during the period when America's military was making use of lighter-than-air dirigibles. Reading about the first two, the Shenandoah and the Akron, was intriguing enough, but I really sat up and took notice when I reached Will's description of the third wreck, the airship Macon. That was the disaster the Associated Press assigned their hotshot young artist, Noel Sickles, to illustrate for release across the news wire! We reprinted the image on page twenty-eight of our Scorchy Smith & The Art of Noel Sickles, and the artist himself remained proud of that particular piece, saying:

[The A.P. piece] I think most memorable was when the dirigible Macon went down in a storm in the Pacific Ocean. The word came in and I had two hours to do the drawing. A storm had forced it into the ocean and the impact had broken it in two. I had to figure out where it would break and what sort of rescue ships would be looming over the horizon. I picked cruisers. Interestingly enough, this did prove to be the right choice. The picture was the first drawing ever transmitted over wirephoto to papers around the country. At first the wirephoto people didn't want to send it, because it wasn't a picture, but it was sent and published on Page One of most newspapers.

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The Murray article provides additional information about what forced Macon down on February 12, 1935; he goes on to say, "To this day, both the Akron and the Macon hold the record for the largest helium-filled dirigibles ever constructed. Only the equally ill-fated, hydrogen-filled Hindenburg dwarfed them." He also notes that "reverberations from the Macon disaster were still echoing when Lester Dent penned The Terror in the Navy." Could it be that Dent saw the Sickles depiction of the crashed and sinking Macon? We will never know for sure, but it's fun to conjecture…

I recommend Will's piece to anyone with an interest in the final voyages of the Macon, her sister ship, the Akron, or the earlier Shenandoah‚—and of course, I recommend the Sanctum Books hero-pulp reprints if, like me, you have an irrepressible ten-year-old inside you who would enjoy a little indulging!

canwellposted by Bruce Canwell

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Sunday, Oct 16th, 2011

The Black Bag Mystery Part 20

Here's the twentieth installment of "The Black Bag Mystery" by Chester Gould! We're keeping all previous installments uploaded so you can refer back to them to help solve the mystery at the end!

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Dean Mullaney posted by Dean Mullaney

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Saturday, Oct 15th, 2011

The Black Bag Mystery Part 19

Here's the nineteenth installment of "The Black Bag Mystery" by Chester Gould! We're keeping all previous installments uploaded so you can refer back to them to help solve the mystery at the end!

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Dean Mullaney posted by Dean Mullaney

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Friday, Oct 14th, 2011

The Black Bag Mystery Part 18

Here's the eighteenth installment of "The Black Bag Mystery" by Chester Gould! We're keeping all previous installments uploaded so you can refer back to them to help solve the mystery at the end!

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Dean Mullaney posted by Dean Mullaney

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Thursday, Oct 13th, 2011

A Big Book for a Little King

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Otto Soglow wrote and drew The Little King for more than forty years. In preparation for the upcoming release of our Otto Soglow book, we had to read upwards of 2,000 Little King Sunday pages in order to choose which strips we felt were the most representative of his minimalistic genius. Think about it: we had to read more than 2,000 Sunday pages. Sometimes I have to kick myself in the pants: Does anyone really have a better job than this?

Sheesh!

The book, though, is more than just The Little King. It also presents every installment of The Ambassador, the strip Soglow created for King Features as a stand-in for the King until such time as his contract with The New Yorker (where Soglow created his diminuative monarch) ended. Soglow's career, of course, began before The Little King. As Jared Gardner notes in his lengthy introduction, Soglow was a man whose origins and political sensibilities were always with the working man on the street—and even the angry mob—but whose career brought him into the loving embrace of the most powerful men and corporations in the country, including most importantly William Randolph Hearst. Out of this tension is born everything we love about this cartoon monarch.

Here's some examples of what the book has to offer:

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A 1933 ad, one of a series for Standard Oil.

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An book illustration from 1930's Through the Alimentary Canal.

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A King Features promo sheet for the strip.

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A 1942 ad for Fleischmann's Yeast.

 

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An early Little King strip from the New Yorker days.

 

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A 1951 Sunday page.

 

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Above: A 1958 Sunday—Soglow was still fresh and funny after doing the strip for twenty-four years.

Below: samples from 1962 and 1963 that show Soglow as a true master of the form.

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And on that note…adieu.

Dean Mullaney posted by Dean Mullaney

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Thursday, Oct 13th, 2011

The Black Bag Mystery Part 17

Here's the seventeenth installment of "The Black Bag Mystery" by Chester Gould! We're keeping all previous installments uploaded so you can refer back to them to help solve the mystery at the end!

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Dean Mullaney posted by Dean Mullaney

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Wednesday, Oct 12th, 2011

The Black Bag Mystery Part 16

Here's the sixteenth installment of "The Black Bag Mystery" by Chester Gould! We're keeping all previous installments uploaded so you can refer back to them to help solve the mystery at the end!

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Dean Mullaney posted by Dean Mullaney

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Tuesday, Oct 11th, 2011

Author! Author! (in the future, perhaps?!)

Bruce Canwell's been keeping you up to date on the great team of writers who contribute to our books. He also told you about the recent birth announcements of a Baby Heer and a Baby Findlay. Not to be outdone, over in Illinois on September 2nd, TWO -- count 'em, TWO -- more babies decided to say hello to this world:

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Please join us and their parents Keri and Jeff (Dick Tracy) Kersten in welcoming Norah Grace Kersten and Halas Parker Kersten.

Dean Mullaney posted by Dean Mullaney

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Tuesday, Oct 11th, 2011

The Black Bag Mystery Part 15

Here's the fifteenth installment of "The Black Bag Mystery" by Chester Gould! We're keeping all previous installments uploaded so you can refer back to them to help solve the mystery at the end!

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Dean Mullaney posted by Dean Mullaney

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Monday, Oct 10th, 2011

The Black Bag Mystery Part 14

Here's the fourteenth installment of "The Black Bag Mystery" by Chester Gould! We're keeping all previous installments uploaded so you can refer back to them to help solve the mystery at the end!

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Dean Mullaney posted by Dean Mullaney

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Sunday, Oct 9th, 2011

The Black Bag Mystery Part 13

Here's the thirteenth installment of "The Black Bag Mystery" by Chester Gould! We're keeping all previous installments uploaded so you can refer back to them to help solve the mystery at the end!

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Dean Mullaney posted by Dean Mullaney

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Saturday, Oct 8th, 2011

The Black Bag Mystery Part 12

Here's the twelfth installment of "The Black Bag Mystery" by Chester Gould! We're keeping all previous installments uploaded so you can refer back to them to help solve the mystery at the end!

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Dean Mullaney posted by Dean Mullaney

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Friday, Oct 7th, 2011

Author! Author! (again!)

Like most publishers of classic newspaper comics strips, we here at LOAC run short Introductions to many of our books. Sometimes they are informed observations penned by talented contemporaries—Jim Steranko's brilliant intro to Scorchy Smith & The Art of Noel Sickles stands as a shining example. Other times they are personal reminiscences from those who knew or loved the talented person in question, such as Mark Chiarello's heartfelt tribute to Alex Toth in Genius, Isolated, which earned high praise from Toth's children.

In addition to these introductions, Library of American Comics volumes typically feature long-form essays that seek to place the strip in question into biographical and historical context. Last time I inhabited this space, I tipped my cap to Jeff Kersten and Max Allan Collins, Kurtis Findlay, and Jeet Heer for producing the informative essays that help LOAC remain among the leaders of our field. But more than those four fine gents have contributed to our success, so this time around I'll continue to proceed alphabetically through this clutch of kudos for LOAC's wordsmiths…

Trina Robbins (Miss Fury) - Who better to provide a biographical overview of the woman cartoonist who created her own female superhero than Trina, who co-founded both the underground anthology Wimmen's Comix and the Friends of Lulu organization? Trina's career also includes a Wonder Woman one-shot (produced with respected artist Colleen Doran) focusing on the issue of spousal abuse—such erudite tomes as Women and the Comics, A Century of Women Cartoonists, and The Great Women Cartoonists—the further comic-book adventures of ground-breaking TV lady gumshoe Honey West—and other credits too numerous to mention in this short space. Trina has contributed to past Miss Fury reprintings, but in our case she served as both editor and writer, giving her the opportunity to not only share her insights into the life and career of Tarpé Mills, but also her available pages from Mills's never-published Albino Jo graphic novel.

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Trina and Dean go way back. A 30-year-old blast from the past: the Eclipse Comics panel at an early 1980s NY Comic Con. Left to right: Trina Robbins, Marshall Rogers, Dean Mullaney, and P. Craig Russell. Off-camera on the left are Max Allan Collins and Terry Beatty.

Maggie Thompson (Archie) - The story of Archie and his parent publisher is unique in comics history, a tale that spans from the pulps to comic books to the comic strip (and, later, beyond into television, music, and other storytelling and merchandizing outlets). Maggie Thompson is more than just the guiding light of the Comics Buyer's Guide—she is an important voice in the industry who possesses an encyclopedic knowledge of all three of the worlds that helped spawn Riverdale and let it grow roots until it became an enduring part of Americana. Maggie's work helped many new readers become conversant with "Archie's secret origin," and helped our Archie volume earn the coveted Eisner Award at this year's San Diego Comic-Con.

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A page from the forthcoming Archie's Sunday Best, a compilation of selected Sundays by Bob Montana from the late 1940s and early 1950s. Look for it in March.

Brian Walker (Rip Kirby, Bringing Up Father, Blondie) - Comics may literally be encoded in Brian's DNA, since he's the son of fabled cartoonist Mort Walker, creator of Beetle Bailey and other memorable strips. Brian has followed in his father's footsteps, helping to continue Beetle and Hi & Lois in the 21st Century, while also producing literally dozens of books. 2010's popular Doonesbury & The Art of G.B. Trudeau is still earning praise, while perhaps Brian's most indispensible release is The Comics: The Complete Collection (a compendium of the previous two-volume set, The Comics Before 1945 and The Comics After 1945). Brian also founded The Museum of Cartoon Art and has served as curator for scores of exhibitions devoted to comics and cartooning, including a recent showing focused on Flash Gordon. Clearly, Brian takes a back seat to no one in terms of enthusiasm for the comics artform.

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Dagwood and Blondie visit the Chicago World's Fair!

A roll call like this wouldn't be complete without mentioning Berkeley Breathed and his entertaining "commentary tracks" for our Bloom County reprints…and oh yes, I've been known to write a feature article or two for the line. I'm influenced at least in part by the great New Yorker essayists of my youth (can you call yourself a baseball fan without having read Roger Angell's Summer Game and Late Innings?), and I hope it's apparent that I try hard to entertain as well as inform on every project I tackle. It's a constant challenge, striving to equal the quality of material produced by this talented line-up of writers—but we all strive to produce text worthy of the creators and strips we're covering!

canwellposted by Bruce Canwell

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Friday, Oct 7th, 2011

The Black Bag Mystery Part 11

Here's the eleventh installment of "The Black Bag Mystery" by Chester Gould! We're keeping all previous installments uploaded so you can refer back to them to help solve the mystery at the end!

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Dean Mullaney posted by Dean Mullaney

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Thursday, Oct 6th, 2011

The Black Bag Mystery Part 10

Here's the tenth installment of "The Black Bag Mystery" by Chester Gould! We're keeping all previous installments uploaded so you can refer back to them to help solve the mystery at the end!

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Dean Mullaney posted by Dean Mullaney

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Wednesday, Oct 5th, 2011

Author! Author!

There are no dummies here at LOAC Central (though I suppose some might argue that point, ho-ho). We know it's the immense talents of cartoonists such as Alex Raymond, Milton Caniff, Cliff Sterrett, and Alex Toth and the iconic series like Dick Tracy, Flash Gordon, Little Orphan Annie, and Blondie that attract people to Library of American Comics releases. Still 'n' all, we're proud of the introductory material we produce on a regular basis. While almost every publisher involved in the strip-reprint business offers some sort of text feature in the front or the back of their products, we consistently hear from diverse sources that our historical/biographical articles tend to go above and beyond the industry's baseline, adding real value and lending our books a distinctive identity.

We obviously enjoy hearing such praise, though on that score each individual reader comes to his or her own conclusion. What we do know is: the quality of our essays is a reflection of the quality of our writers. Here, then, is the first in a two-part salute to the talented instructors at the LOAC College of Comic Strip Knowledge—in alphabetical order, no less!—with a sprinkling of fun facts for good measure ...

Max Allan Collins (Dick Tracy) - Max has been offering his keen insights into Tracy's sprawling cast of characters and morally ambivalent world since the outset, pointing out how no one depicted weather better than Chester Gould and cautioning us that Chet paced his stories with readers of the daily newspaper in mind. Who better to provide such observations, since Max took over writing Dick Tracy from Gould, enjoying a run of more than fifteen years on the series. Writing is a family affair in the Collins household, since Max and his wife collaborate on a series of mystery novels under the nom de plume Barbara Allan.

Kurtis Findlay (Chuck Jones: The Dream That Never Was) - Kurtis is the newest member of LOAC's brigade of wordsmiths. A Chuck Jones fan extraordinaire, he found one passing reference to Jones's obscure short-lived comic strip, Crawford, and grew it into a jumbo-sized book that will delight comics mavens and animation buffs alike. I learned a tremendous amount about Chuck Jones from Kurtis's Dream essay, and this is my first chance to public thank him for his fine work - and to congratulate his wife and him on their brand-new (as of September 19th) baby boy—Milo Crawford Findlay!

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Kurtis uncovered so much material that the book has swelled from 228 to 288 pages. Even with all that extra space, these two items didn't make the final cut. Some Chuck Jones extras for y'all.

Jeet Heer (Little Orphan Annie, Polly & Her Pals) - As you may remember from one of our earlier entries in this space, Jeet also welcomed a new addition (daughter Bella Elinor) into his family earlier this spring. Jeet sets the gold standard for comics scholarship—his work much in demand and appearing in not just LOAC's books, but in other strip releases from Drawn & Quarterly and Fantagraphics as well—and he is unquestionably the world's foremost authority on Harold Gray and Little Orphan Annie. Did you catch him on CBS's Sunday Morning TV program last year, in the wake of the announcement of Annie's cancellation in the nation's newspapers?

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Jeff Kersten (Dick Tracy) - Since Volume 7 of the LOAC Dick Tracy, Jeff has been augmenting Max Allan Collins's essays with separate entries of his own that serve up a wealth of historical/biographical information about Chet Gould and his sharp-eyed sleuth. Jeff has long-standing connections to the Gould family, since he helped found the Chester Gould/Dick Tracy Museum and publishes the limited-edition Sunday Project that reprints Tracy Sunday pages in full color. On more than one occasion since Jeff joined our Dick Tracy mix, Chet's daughter, Jean Gould O'Connell, has contacted Dean to tell him how happy she is that her father's beliefs regarding storytelling, religion, politics, crime-fighting, and the business of comics are being accurately documented, sometimes for the very first time. There is no greater joy for Dean, Lorraine, and I than to satisfy the families and descendents of the fine cartoonists of yesteryear, and it pleases us no end that Jean offers Jeff her vote of confidence for the work he is turning in on Tracy.

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Here's a great example of of what Jeff and Chet's daughter Jean add to series: Chester Gould's thoughts in his own words.

Believe it or not, we've only reached the halfway point of the LOAC writer roster! I'll be back soon with a tip of the John Steed-like bowler in the direction of our remaining purveyors of auctorial acumen.

canwellposted by Bruce Canwell

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Wednesday, Oct 5th, 2011

The Black Bag Mystery Part 9

Here's the ninth installment of "The Black Bag Mystery" by Chester Gould! We're keeping all previous installments uploaded so you can refer back to them to help solve the mystery at the end!

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Dean Mullaney posted by Dean Mullaney

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Tuesday, Oct 4th, 2011

The Black Bag Mystery Part 8

Here's the eighth installment of "The Black Bag Mystery" by Chester Gould! We're keeping all previous installments uploaded so you can refer back to them to help solve the mystery at the end!

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Dean Mullaney posted by Dean Mullaney

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Monday, Oct 3rd, 2011

The Black Bag Mystery Part 7

Here's the seventh installment of "The Black Bag Mystery" by Chester Gould! We're keeping all previous installments uploaded so you can refer back to them to help solve the mystery at the end!

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Dean Mullaney posted by Dean Mullaney

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Sunday, Oct 2nd, 2011

The Black Bag Mystery Part 6

Here's the sixth installment of "The Black Bag Mystery" by Chester Gould! The first five appeared yesterday; we're keeping all previous installments uploaded so you can refer back to them to help solve the mystery at the end!

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Dean Mullaney posted by Dean Mullaney

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Saturday, Oct 1st, 2011

The Black Bag Mystery Parts 1-5

This month marks Dick Tracy's 80th anniversary! Chester Gould began the story of his intrepid policeman on October 4, 1931 and established him as the foremost comics detective—often copied and parodied, but never equalled.

The strip was so popular that in late 1948 the Chicago Tribune's publisher, Colonel Robert R. McCormick, asked Gould to create a serialized mystery case for Dick Tracy to investigate that could be used to boost the paper's circulation. Gould came up with "The Black Bag Mystery," in which readers were encouraged to submit solutions for cash. The Colonel staked the promotion with $25,000 in prizes. Gould wrote and penciled the strips and the syndicate hired another artist to ink and color.

The contest ran for thirty-six consecutive color weekday strips in January and February 1949—the only Tracy "dailies" ever to appear in color. It was a great success, netting the Trib 50,000 new subscribers and Chester Gould a brand new black Cadillac as a "thank you" from his boss.

The complete color strips and full details of the story are in The Complete Dick Tracy volume 12, which will be on sale this month. We're very grateful to Jean Gould O'Connell, Chet's daughter, for loaning us her father's personal scrapbook of these strips so we could scan them.

The syndicate hoped to duplicate the promotion in newspapers from other cities and so never published the solution to the mystery. It's still an open case, folks! Here's your chance to match wits with Dick Tracy: we'll run one strip per day every day this month right here! To kick things off, we'll start you with the first five today!

Check back every day to get the latest clue. After the final strip appears on November 1st, we encourage you to write your own solutions in fifty words or less. Please send YOUR solution by November 20th. Don't look for any part of that twenty-five grand—the Trib gave that away more than sixty years ago! Instead, we'll print our favorite solutions here by the end of November.

Have fun!

 

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Dean Mullaney posted by Dean Mullaney

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