Friday, Aug 19th, 2011
The High Renaissance of Classic Comics Reprinting
Back in the 1980s and early '90s, those of us who were involved in reprinting classic newspaper strips thought we had entered the "Golden Age" of such collections. After all, that wave of reprint collections brought many classics such as Krazy Kat, Terry and the Pirates, and Pogo back into print for the very first time. All of us—me at Eclipse, Fantagraphics, Kitchen Sink, and NBM—took advantage of the healthy Direct Market comics stores pipeline to produce a plethora of titles. But cycles play their course and times change. That "Golden Age" came to an end with the subsequent comic book bust.
So here we are at the beginnings of the 21st Century. What's happening now makes that previous "Golden Age" seem like a false start. There's no doubt that we are truly in the best period of classic comics preservation ever. As Tom DeHaven notes in an article in the current online edition of The Comics Journal, we're in a true Renaissance in that endeavor. "It’s as if a hive decision was arrived at among publishers," he writes, "to produce, once and for all, a comprehensive national comics library in print." DeHaven offers a fantastic overview of the field, concentrating on something we spend a tremendous amount of time researching: the introductory essays that place the comics in their proper context. It's a don't miss read.
Meanwhile, Genius, Isolated—the first book in our three-volume biography of Alex Toth—is featured in the Arts & Leisure section of today's New York Times. The online version is available here. Dana Jennings writes, "what’s most shocking is that the book’s cover shrieks Matisse—not vintage comics artist." I'm not sure what Alex would think of his image from "Taps" being compared to Matisse, but I'd like to think he'd be pleased. Bravo for Alex, I say!
Over at Scoop, this week's reviews include our latest five-pounder: Caniff: A Visual Biography. They write that we have "produced yet another spectacular, essential book for the shelves or coffee tables of enthusiasts of comics at their best."
So it's been a good week overall…a nice pause before the next deadline looms.
posted by Dean Mullaney