Thursday, Mar 27th, 2014

The Uncensored Popeye!

Dean Mullaney posted by Dean Mullaney

Now that the first volume of our complete collection of Bobby London's six years of Popeye strips is in stores, it's a good a time as any to spring our big surprise—when we say "complete," we mean COMPLETE!

What IS known: Bobby London's take on the Sailor Man has often been overshadowed by his being fired from the strip in 1992, ostensibly for presenting a storyline that was an allegory about abortion. In that ultimate tale, Olive had become addicted to the Home Shopping Network and ordered a Baby Brutus mechanical doll. When Popeye insists that she get rid of the "baby," two priests mistakenly believe that the baby is real and that Olive is going exercise her pro-choice rights. King Features Syndicate pulled the final three weeks of strips and daily newspapers began running reprints, except for one paper that brazenly published the strips.That was that. Story over in mid-stream.

Now, twenty-two years later, thanks to the kind cooperation of the good folks at King Features, those three weeks will be included in the second volume of our series. But wait…that's not all! Turns out that in order to fulfill his contract, Bobby produced an ADDITIONAL SIX WEEKS of strips beyond the three that were pulled from syndiction! These six weeks were sent to King and prompted returned. Bobby's been sitting on them all these years and has sent us copies. (Thanks, Bobby!)

Bottom line? Our second volume, to be published in October, will contain—for the first time anywhere—ALL NINE weeks of "censored" Bobby London's Popeye strips. Trust us, it's worth the wait! Here's one daily to whet your appetite (click on image for a larger version). In the meantime, don't miss the first volume, which is on sale now.

Unpubbed

Copyright 2014 King Features Syndicate. Popeye TM Hearst Holdings, Inc.

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Wednesday, Mar 19th, 2014

Abnerian Artifacts

canwellposted by Bruce Canwell

Seems to me as if it was only yesterday when Li'l Abner Volume 6 hit the stands, bringing us the "wonder" that was Lena the Hyena, but here I am, deep in the writing of introductory text for Volume 7, which I immodestly claim will be the high water mark of our Abner series—and not just because Al Capp has such entertaining stuff waiting for you. He does have those great stories coming, headlined by the arrival of the Shmoo, but we've unearthed some nifty information I'll be folding into my essay. It's always great fun to write these features when we get to shine the spotlight on juicy, fun tidbits, some which have not been discussed in prior Abner reprint efforts, others that may have been mentioned, but now get presented in a somewhat different context.

Sometimes we find things that, for one reason or another, won't be included in our actual printed volumes. That's OK, because we get to present several of those pieces here!

Case in point…

Li'l Abner's 1948 Shmoo storyline was, in many ways, the biggest hit in comics history up to that time. In Volume 7 we'll discuss the magnitude of that hit and how it was also a financial and promotional bonanza for Al Capp. One indication of the magnitude of the Shmoo Saga's popularity: Simon and Shuster rushed to get this story between two covers in time for 1948's Christmas shopping season. Priced at a whopping one dollar, it was assumed the book would fly off bookstore shelves (you remember bookstores, right?), which is exactly what it did.

In San Mateo, California, the Peninsula Bookshop knew the Shmoo collection was going to be big—they took out this ad in the local newspaper, the Times:

SanMateo

Sometimes we discover something we absolutely love, but the condition of the artifact is such it may never be restored to a visual quality deemed worthy of printing. Check out this 1947 ad, run on October 7th in the Winnipeg Tribune, advertising the comics lineup in the Trib's weekend companion, the Standard.

Winnipeg

There are a lot of things I like about this ad. First, note the sheer number of strips in this lineup that would eventually make their way into Library of American Comics editions. The ad gives its keynote position to Milton Caniff and Steve Canyon (ol' Steverino was less than a year old on this date, in the midst of his tussle with Herr Splitz and Madame Lynx), but the Standard kept the old even while it embraced the new—both Canyon and George Wunder's Terry and the Pirates were in its lineup! But of most interest for our purposes here, check out how Capp and Li'l Abner are positioned immediately beneath Ham Fisher and Joe Palooka. As we've discussed—and will continue to discuss in upcoming LOAC Abner volumes - Capp and Fisher engaged in a long and increasingly bitter feud, so think of Capp's reaction if he saw this ad! The roof must have blown off the artist's Boston studio and flipped 360 degrees in mid-air before settling back into place…

Capp's story is a reminder that for some celebrities (and Al was a celebrity, make no mistake about it), no matter how much success accrues, there are always mountains to climb and enemies to combat—but despite the dark linings in his silvery cloud, this singular talent had an ability to entertain that was unmatched among comic strip creators, then or now. That's part of what makes his story so fascinating, and part of what makes Li'l Abner a must-read for anyone interested in comic strip history.

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Monday, Mar 17th, 2014

Another puzzler

Every so often we take a comic strip puzzle from the stacks and put it together so we can share it with readers. Here's a 1933 Radio Orphan Annie premium, complete with the original carboard mailer box. We hope you enjoy it.

puzzle1

puzzle2

puzzle3

 

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Friday, Mar 14th, 2014

Alex Toth model sheets

Dean Mullaney posted by Dean Mullaney

Genius, Animated, the third book in our Alex Toth trilogy, is -- tada -- at the printer. It will be in stores in May. Adding the 336 pages in this volume, the complete set contains, as Bruce noted, more than 1,000 pages of Toth.

Even with 1,000 pages, there is some art that we just couldn't fit. Here are five model sheets from 1967's Young Samson and Goliath reproduced from the original artwork. (All TM and © Hanna-Barbera)

samson1

samson2

samson3

samson4

samson5

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Thursday, Mar 6th, 2014

Alex Toth, Storyboarder (part two)

Dean Mullaney posted by Dean Mullaney

Some more "extras" that we couldn't fit in the forthcoming GENIUS, ANIMATED: The Cartoon Art of Alex Toth, the third book in our Alex Toth trilogy.

More to come…! (Art TM and © Hanna-Barbera.)

t6

t7

t8

t9

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Wednesday, Mar 5th, 2014

Alex Toth, Storyboarder (part one)

Dean Mullaney posted by Dean Mullaney

We're in the final stages of production for GENIUS, ANIMATED: The Cartoon Art of Alex Toth, the third book in our Alex Toth trilogy. Deciding what art makes it into the book is a challenge. It's like trying to put together a 500-piece puzzle with 1,500 pieces!

We'll start sharing some of the pieces that aren't going to be in the book. If you think these are great, wait 'till you see what did make the final cut! (Art TM and © Hanna-Barbera.)

t1

t2

t3

t4

t5

More tomorrow…!

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