Wednesday, January 09, 2013

BOOK REVIEW! THE SMITHSONIAN COLLECTION OF NEWSPAPER COMICS, edited by Bill Blackbeard and Martin Williams (Smithsonian/Abrams, 1977)

Here's an oldie that I dragged outta the BLOG TO COMM collection in order to make it through the wait for the next volume of DICK TRACY strips due any day now! And as far as comic strip collections go, this 'un's a pretty good deal as far as a collection of Amerigan comics from the 1890's until the late-seventies go even if the usual comic upper-echelon snobbery is obvious (as the absence of NANCY, PRISCILLA or HENRY would attest to) and rare stuff you thought they's stick in here ain't nowhere to be seen. Por ejemplo I for one would've loved to've seen one or two of the earliest KATZENJAMMER KIDS appearances ca. 1897 when Mrs. K hadda handle three kids, one of which was named "Adolf" if Don Fellman can be trusted, but crucial items like that were deemed insignificant, or at least that's the impression """"""""""I"""""""""" surely get!

But hey, if you can't get to the library microfilm department and you wanna read some hotcha old-timey comic strips a book like this can't be beat. The compilers on this 'un at least knew enough to present the creamier of the cream of comic strips, and even if they did have an eye for the artzier aspects of the form 'stead of the cheaper, fun stuff this does act as a concise history that fortunately includes a whole number of items I'm sure glad made the grade at the expense of some things that didn't (read; we thankfully do not have to put up with THE KEWPIES!!!)

Good 'nuff selection including the entire Sunday Sea Hag run of POPEYE (complete with SAPPO topper), a hefty '29 vintage MOON MULLINS saga, that DICK TRACY where he had to work in uniform with an Indian agent to capture some bizarro badskis and plenty more. Really, there's enough good gunch here to keep you entertained whether you're sitting in your easy chair or sprawled out onna floor like any self-respecting blob, and although there are quite a few strips of a "questionable" nature included if only because of their "respectable" nature you can always bleeb over 'em. I sure did!

In all, a nice tribute to a form that really hasn't been worth its weight ever since life, along with rock 'n roll and fashions and tee-vee and people in general, just became cringe-y. But even with the absence of plenty of crucial entries (no "Nov Schmoz Ka Pop!" here either, though OUR BOARDING HOUSE merits a good six panels) and a concentration of comics as "art" 'stead of a fun way to spend the post-homework hours, this book does fulfill at least some of its promise. And really, this read will help out many of you who are not familiar with these long-forgotten strips that have been consigned to the newspaper files long ago, other than through other forms of medium ifyaknowwaddamean. After all, I am pretty sure that a whole lotta ya regular BLOG TO COMM readers jerk off to Tijuana Bible collections featuring the stars of once-popular comics not knowing from whence they originated, and if you're curious as to what THE BUNGLE FAMILY denizens were up to when not engaging in incest here's your chance!

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