Tuesday, Jan 31st, 2012
Bookshelves Are Us
posted by Dean Mullaney
Bruce Canwell started the "I'll show you mine if you show me yours" bookcase organization challenge and Jeff Dyer is first to join the game. It's fascinating how we each have our own collating principles. Here's what Jeff says:
"I grouped Bloom County with my older Calvin & Hobbes books, as I think of those two as the finest strips of the 1980s. I put Dick Tracy with Rip Kirby, of course...two great detectives from two different eras. I do look forward to the day when I can (hopefully) replace Dick Tracy Vol 1-6 with larger editions to match the others. I have a Caniff Shelf...Terry, Caniff, Scorchy Smith (by honorable mention) and now, happily...Steve Canyon! I have Annie with Abner (probably because it sounds good when spoken together!) but also want to point out my old Li'l Abner metal toy. It's from my great aunt who passed away. She had this toy in her home for years and years. I never knew about the comic strip until many years later. But now the books and toy match nicely! Finally, I have my large shelf for the really big books! This of course includes Flash Gordon and Polly!!
"After taking these pics and seeing all the great books you have coming soon, I realize...I NEED MORE SPACE!!"
Friday, Jan 27th, 2012
Show and Tell
posted by Bruce Canwell
Once upon a time I used to keep my comics collection/graphic novel books separate from my prose books. Of course, sometimes the line would blur a bit—where would prose books about comics, like Gerard Jones's exceptional Men of Tomorrow, best be kept? Should something like Gil Kane's Blackmark be shelved with one group of books or the other? I found there were too many times when I was hunting for one specific volume or other, so I lost patience and did a big reorganization project that put all my books in simple alphabetical-by-author order. That means J.G. Ballard is next to James Bama, Paul Chadwick is next to Raymond Chandler, and Jack Kirby is next to Ernie Kovacs (a place neither of those fine men would have expected to occupy!). In the years since I made the switch-over, I've never had a problem finding any book.
In some cases, "author" equates to "imprint." Marvel and DC books are best grouped together…and yes, I decided it was easiest to shelve all Library of American Comics books together. Here's a look at how they look:
The way things are currently grouped together, as you can see, the LOAC titles occupy the lower portion of one shelf and the top end of the neighboring shelf. They're organized by cartoonist within the LOAC grouping: Caniff currently leads the pack, with Blondie (by Chic Young) finishing off the run. (OK, the two "Champagne Edition" books, Polly and Her Pals and Flash Gordon/Jungle Jim Volume 1, are out of sequence—nuthin's perfect! But those books are jumbo-sized, meaning they aren't likely to get lost in the shuffle.)
Some may wonder why Berkeley Breathed doesn't get the pole position in this display, ahead of Caniff; the eagle-eyed among you will notice our five Bloom County volumes are not present here. There's a simple reason for that: they're currently in my office, on my "To Be Read" shelf, because one of my goals is to re-read all of Bloom County during 2012. Once I've gone through the series, Bloom will take its proper place amongst our other books.
That's the view of my LOAC bookshelves, but we'd be curious to see what yours look like, too.
If you send us pictures of your LOAC books—with some explanation of how you organize all your books, if you're so inclined—they may appear in this space in a future installment, and we might have a wee token we can send you as a way of saying thanks.
Now, if you'll pardon me, I have to go clear some space. Gotta make room for Blondie Volume 2, and Steve Canyon Volume 1, and Cartoon Monarch, and…
Tuesday, Jan 17th, 2012
posted by Bruce Canwell
As I mentioned to Dean shortly before Christmas, 2012 marks the fifth anniversary of the existence of The Library of American Comics. It was summer of 2007 when advance copies of our first release went on sale at the San Diego Comic-Con—I was in San Diego that year, participating with such luminaries as Eric Reynolds, Steve Tippie, Charles Pelto, and R.J. Harvey in a panel discussion devoted to The Great American Comic Strip. Someone in the audience asked what was going to be forthcoming from the publishers represented on the panel that day—because we didn't want to take attention from our first book, so I could only promise that person, "Our plan is to surprise and delight our readers."
I like to think over the past five years, we've done just that.
We arranged with Mr. Tippie and Tribune Media Services to be the home for the three "crown jewels" of the Chicago Tribune-New York News Syndicate, and our Dick Tracy and Little Orphan Annie series continue to hold their devoted audiences. We've also become the home for Alex Raymond, following up his complete Rip Kirby with an oversized presentation of Flash Gordon and Jungle Jim. We've unearthed forgotten gems like King Aroo and Miss Fury, we've shed new light on old favorites like Blondie and helped breathe new life into the domestic hijinx of the Perkins (Polly and Her Pals), Yokum (Li'l Abner), and Jiggs (Bringing Up Father) clans. We've offered the 1960s chic and cheek of Williamson/Goodwin's Secret Agent X-9 while producing extensive biographies of Noel Sickles, Alex Toth, and Milton Caniff. We've won three Eisners, for Archie and Bloom County ... and for the book that started it all.
Exactly five years ago this month, Dean and I started work on Terry and the Pirates Volume 1, gearing up for that summertime debut. We had decided to produce Terry (the third of the Trib/News crown jewels) because we share a love for Caniff's timeless adventure saga, which remains an amazing work today, almost eighty years after its debut. We had no idea where it would take us—certainly not to an Eisner win!—but it's been a fun and sometimes wild ride, with lots of work and lots of laughs along the way.
And what will we be releasing this month but Steve Canyon Volume 1, and what could be more fitting than that? The truck below is bringing Steve Canyon to your favorite comics shop today; Amazon copies will be availble on the 31st.
Canyon debuted in January sixty-five years ago—January 13, 1947, to be precise. Its first week of continuity is still hailed as a textbook example of comics storytelling. For us, it completes a circle of The Library of American Comics's first five years—we started the period producing Milton Caniff's Terry and we finish it by releasing our 50th book, Caniff's Canyon. That's the type of journey any comics fan would find incredibly satisfying, a journey the twentysomething version of me, reading Caniff for the first time thanks to publishers such as Kitchen Sink Press and NBM, could have never envisioned.
We don't intend to rest on our laurels, of course. As I type this, I literally just finished doing edits on Cartoon Monarch, presenting the brilliant Otto Soglow and The Little King, with an entertaining and illuminating essay by Ohio State University's Jared Gardner. Be on the lookout for this wonderful release in March
There are other big, innovative projects in development, as well. We aren't ready to discuss them just yet, but our plan hasn't changed in five years—we still plan to surprise and delight our readers.
In the meantime, it's a Happy 65th anniversary to Steve Canyon, and a Happy 50th book to the Library of American Comics.
Sunday, Jan 8th, 2012
2011: The LOAC Year in Review (part two)
posted by Bruce Canwell
Welcome back to our curtain call for 2011. If you've forgotten how great the second half of the year was, at least in LOAC terms, read on and remember…
LOAC was in attendance at the San Diego Comic-Con and was humbled (but mightily pleased) to receive the Eisner Award for "Best Archival Project: Newspaper Strips" for Archie Volume One. It was our first back-to-back win (Bloom County won in this category during 2010), and we had three total Eisner nominations during '11, our most ever.
San Diego Comic-Com time is also time for major releases, and this year we turned out the last of our Alex Raymond Rip Kirby run (Volume 4, that is), as well as a book we were all especially pleased and proud to release—Caniff: A Visual Biography.
There were somber moments amidst the euphoria: we said goodbye to our dear friend, Lew Sayre Schwartz, and while at the Comic-Con, Dean participated on panels honoring both Bill Blackbeard and "The Dean" of the classic Marvel Comics bullpen, Gene Colan.
Never mind M&Ms, Little Orphan Annie Volume 7 brought us A & A: Mister Am and The Asp!
This was also the month when we let the world know horizons were unlimited, because Steve Canyon was coming to LOAC in 2012.
While we took a pause in our publication schedule, Jeff Kersten's family expanded by two as his and his wife Keri's twins were born. Dean and Lorraine jetted off to Paris. On our blog space, I also accurately predicted the Texas Rangers emerging as American League champions. Did I foresee the epic collapse of my beloved Boston Red Sox? Hey, even the highest-profile seers didn't see that one coming!
Things went pearshaped and folks felt wormy as Dick Tracy Volume 12 hit the stores. The fifth and final Bloom County Library book was released, but don't fret, Berkeley Breathed fans—Outland will be released in 2012..
On this very website, we premiered Tracy's "Black Bag Mystery." We also announced Cartoon Monarch, our upcoming reprinting of Otto Soglow's The Little King and The Ambassador.
We took a deep breath before diving into December, though we did announce a second Bringing Up Father book for 2012. We were sad to mark the passing of Bil Keane, the respected creator of The Family Circus. On October 29th, a sneak-attack snowstorm swept up the East Coast and struck New England, leaving my home without electricity or hot water for three days. Good thing I was too busy to have done a grocery shopping—all I lost was one pork chop and one small steak when my refrigerator and freezer inevitably reached room temperature ...
And so we came to the twelfth month, and what a month it was!
Secret Agent X-9 Volume 3 rolled off the presses ...
... Then Flash Gordon/Jungle Jim Volume 1 came out, proving that, contrary to the old joke, size does matter.
We announced that, thanks to popular demand, we were continuing to reissue Rip Kirby, with a volume featuring the work of John Prentice slated for 2012. We followed that with the very exciting news that we would be reprinting Percy Crosby's Skippy! Dean and I also began making appearances at the LOAC forum on IDW's website.
Finally, less than two weeks before Christmas, Chuck Jones: The Dream That Never Was hit the shelves and was a hit with fans of comics and animation.
And that's the way it was—major releases, exciting announcements, a big industry award, new babies we were glad to welcome and passings we were sad to mark. It was quite a year!
If you enjoyed this website and the LOAC line of books in 2011, keep watching this space. We think you'll like what lies ahead in 2012! It all starts in a week or so with the release of Steve Canyon Volume One!
Sunday, Jan 1st, 2012
2011: The LOAC Year in Review (part one)
posted by Bruce Canwell
True, a "Year in Review" feature isn't the most original idea ever hatched, but hey, ‘tis the season! And certainly, during the past twelve months everyone at LOAC Central has been busier than Santa's elves, so what better time than now to take a deep breath and look back on The Year That Wuz?
We ended 2010 with a pretty fair one-two punch, publishing Rip Kirby Volume 3 and our first Champagne Edition release, the wonderful Eisner-nominated Polly and Her Pals. We began the new year with two new entries in our two longest-running series, Dick Tracy and Little Orphan Annie. Could there be a better way to usher in 2011 than by reading the introduction of Punjab and Mumbles?
This month we also announced our second printings of other sold-out titles: Terry and the Pirates Volumes 2-6, Tracy Volume 8, Rip Kirby Volume 1, Bloom County Volumes 2 and 3, Archie, and Bringing Up Father. It was—and remains—very gratifying that enough folks have supported LOAC books enthusiastically enough to make new printings a necessity.
FEBRUARY & MARCH
Bloom County Volume 4 was published, while Volume 1 migrated to the iPad, and we released our second Secret Agent Corrigan, to the delight of fans of Al (Williamson) and Archie (Goodwin)…including ourselves, of course.
We bid a heartfelt farewell to Bill Blackbeard while also welcoming Jeet Heer's daughter, Bella, into the world. We announced the Chuck Jones project and produced our first-ever paperback, The Very Best of Dick Tracy.
Still, the highlight of the month was the release of our much-anticipated Genius, Isolated: The Life and Art of Alex Toth. This book, two years in the making, was a project near and dear to our hearts. Positive reactions from readers and critics, as well as Alex's family and friends, confirmed we had produced a fitting tribute to Alex's immense talent and fascinating life story.
MAY & JUNE
We unveiled our plans for the oversized second LOAC "Champagne Edition" project, Flash Gordon and Jungle Jim. We then released Li'l Abner Volume 3 and a strip that was on our original 2007 list of projects we wanted to do—Miss Fury!
Sleek Miss Fury and feisty Mammy Yokum - talk about two ends of the Heroine Spectrum!
I'm tired after recounting all that, and we're only halfway through the year! Watch this space for the concluding installment of this 2011 LOAC Year in Review…