Calling All Space-Age Beauties!

Finally! The eight letters that forever changed America’s favorite police strip…

M…O…O…N……M…A…I…D!

It’s (literally!) out of this world action in the twenty-first volume of our COMPLETE DICK TRACY — on sale in December. Here’s a little tease we found while researching the basement archives of the Chicago Tribune-New York News.

Trib

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Krazy Kat preview!

We’re starting to add previews to our website so you can see sample strips. We just added one to LOAC Essentials #9: Krazy Kat 1934. You can click on the link on this page.

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It All “Ad”s Up

We sometimes have more artwork and photos than we can squeeze into the text features of our books. We’re just putting a wrap on Steve Canyon Volume 7, for example, and we have such an abundance of 1959-60 riches related to Milton Caniff and his creation that we’ll likely do a feature in this space showcasing some of the artifacts that didn’t make the cut as the book gets closer to its on-sale date.

Sifting through the files I’ve amassed related to a couple other recent books, I saw some newspaper promotional ads that we didn’t use. Here’s a “Kigmy”-related ad supporting Li’l Abner, circa 1949:

2_Abner Kigmy Ad_1949

And from that same year, an ad that does double duty, both as a promotion for Abner and as a contest pushing Proctor & Gamble products:

1_Abner Shmoo Naming_1949

I’m also partial to this 1933 ad for Tim Tyler’s Luck that we found while preparing our jumbo-sized LOAC Essentials/King Features Essentials Volume 2 devoted to Alex Raymond’s brief-but-memorable stint on that series.

3_TIM TYLER'S LUCK Ad_1933

Seeing those items, and given my own soft spot for this type of material, I thought I’d sift through a batch of newspapers and see what other comic strip promotional ads I could find. The earliest one I located was from the year of the stock market crash, 1929, and is hyping Percy Crosby’s delightful and influential kids strip, Skippy:

4_SKIPPY Ad_1929

Fans of Gasoline Alley (myself included) may get a kick out of this 1930 advertisement, suggesting readers send in their summertime addresses and get the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette delivered while on vacation in order to stay current with events in the Wallet household:

5_GASOLINE ALLEY Ad_1930

And I was delighted to find this 1934 ad from the Asheville, North Carolina Citizen as the paper prepared to bring Little Orphan Annie into its lineup of daily comics. The ad symbolically reminds readers how “Daddy” Warbucks’s red-haired charge typically ends up in hot water :

6_LOA_1934

Not every ad was as elaborate as the Annie, of course. In 1940, when this ad promoting the Golden Age Superman was appearing in client newspapers across America, The Man of Tomorrow was scarcely two years old. How many readers in 1940 could have imagined the strange visitor from planet Krypton would still be entertaining millions, more than seventy-five years after this modest advertisement saw print?

7_SUPERMAN Ad_1940

The sophistication and graceful action shown in this 1952 ad for Rip Kirby strikes me as resonating very closely with what Alex Raymond was presenting on the comics page as he chronicled the adventures of the ’50’s first modern detective:

8_RIP KIRBY Ad_1952

One of the strips I always enjoyed as a youngster was Andy Capp. I liked the “Englishness” of his world, its rough-and-tumble nature, and I’m heartened that Andy has successfully continued his visits to the local more than a decade after his creator’s death (Reg Smythe passed away in 1998). The copy in this 1967 ad from the Pittsburgh Press certainly reflects the tenor of those “Swingin’ Sixties” times, doesn’t it?

9_ANDY CAPP Ad_1967

Finally, here’s a March, 1971 ad for Doonesbury, only five months into its existence. It serves as a reminder of how the art style, themes, and characters in this sprawling, sometimes controversial, sometimes powerful, always-worth-reading strip have changed!

10_DOONESBURY Ad_1971

Keep watching this space, because we’ll be back soon with, as the Monty Python troupe used to say, “something completely different” …

Sixty-Eight Years Ago …

If it’s been a little quiet around here over the past handful of days, it’s because we’ve been driving hard to get a whole string of books prepped and ready to go — he have our Tim Tyler’s Luck Essential and the first of our two Red Barry volumes at the printer, the finishing touches on the lucky-thirteenth Little Orphan Annie were wrapped up during the last few days of July, and I’m driving hard to finish a chock-full-o’-info text feature for Steve Canyon Volume 7, and then I shift my focus to Amazing Spider-Man Volume 4.

So we ain’t sitting on our hands when we don’t show up on a regular basis in this space! Aside from our parade of books, and the Red Sox’s latter July up-and-down fortunes, one of the other things that caught our attention is the recently-concluded Republican and Democratic National Conventions. This silliest of political seasons made us think of the Chicago Tribune‘s famous egg-on-their-face “Dewey Defeats Truman” headline that provided such a memorable capper to the 1948 Presidential campaign (Truman, of course, won re-election in November of that year).

That thought, in turn, made us decide to pull together a fantasy comics page from August 1, 1948. As is the case today, during the ’48 race between Republican Tom Dewey and Democratic President “Give ‘Em Hell, Harry” Truman there were fewer than one hundred days for each candidate to make his case to the American people. With the two candidates campaigning coast-to-coast in earnest, our fantasy comics page features a Leslie Turner Wash Tubbs, popular ol’ reliables Nancy, Popeye, and Henry, a Fred Lasswell Barney Google/Snuffy Smith, grins with the Bumsteads in Blondie, Roy Crane’s Buz Sawyer, hardball action in Ozark Ike, Alley Oop, and — as proof that single-panel features could contain continuity like their multi-panel brethren, Our Boarding House, featuring that lovable bloviating blowhard, Major Hoople (a perfect character to follow during an election year, for obvious reasons!).

Something about all these strips may catch your eye; join me on the other side and we’ll discuss it.

WASH TUBBS_080148

NANCY_080148

POPEYE_080148

HENRY_080148

BARNY GOOGLE_SNUFFY SMITH_080148

BLONDIE_080148

BUZ SAWYER_080148

OZARK IKE_080148

ALLEY OOP_080148

OUR BOARDING HOUSE_080148

Did you notice that each of these strips is dated 07/31/48? Yet they all appeared in newspapers on August 1st. How could this happen?

Well, August 1st, 1948 was a Sunday, and some small-town sheets did not publish on a seven days a week schedule and also did not have the budget to support a color Sunday comics section. As a result, they ran Saturday strips in their Sunday edition, as was the case with all the papers from which I culled the strips for this fantasy page.

We’ll offer the hope the gag strips you see above are the most outrageously humorous things you’ll see between now and our own 2016 election day — but somehow, we doubt it!

New books coming your way

newbooks

It’s always a fun day when a box of advance copies arrives from the printer. Today was especially joyful when we received FIVE books—three LOAC titles and two books from EuroComics, our sister imprint. Looks like there’s something for everyone: Disney fans, Marvel fans, Krazy Kat fans…plus unlike some of our UK friends, we embrace Europe —European comics specifically. Dieter Lumpen (with amazing art by Rubén Pellejero) is out now, and Hugo Pratt’s Corto will be on sale next month, along with the LOAC titles shown.

Potpourri

If things recently seemed quiet in this space, that’s because Dean, Lorraine, and I were all hard-traveling heroes — D & L were wandering through Europe just in time to enjoy the furor surrounding the UK’s “Brexit” vote, and I started out spending five days in San Diego on business before the wife flew out to join me for a weekend in Las Vegas, the first such trip for either of us.

Of course, San Diego is home to great Mexican food, and I was steered to a restaurant called El Indio, which I’ll gladly recommend. If you grew up living on chain-food restaurants and only want to enter places with familiar signs and menus and decor no matter what town you happen to be in, El Indio is not for you — but if you like family-run places with unique character, excellent food, and a welcoming, personal atmosphere, be sure to visit El Indio on your next trip to San Diego. It’s an “order at the counter” place, and you pick up your food on a tray and eat using plastic utensils, but the menu is large and varied, the servings are generous, the prices low, and the taste? Excellent! While deciding what to order, a couple told me they have been married for thirty-seven years and first came to El Indio while they were dating. If that’s not a testament to the quality being offered, I dunno what is!

EL INDIO

The El Indio business card. If you like great Mexican food, you won’t regret visiting!

Las Vegas was my wife’s dream destination, not mine, but since I was already “in the neighborhood” (if a six-plus hour drive from San Diego qualifies for that description), we’d never have a better opportunity to see Sin City. And during the visit my wife looked at me and said, “This is a dream come true for me, you know.” Pretty tough to have regrets about making the trip under a condition like that!

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The New York New York hotel and casino, as seen from the MGM Grand Hotel.

Big Shot_During Ride

Mrs. Canwell love amusement rides, but The Stratosphere’s “Big Shot” gave her a little more than she bargained for as it rocketed her upward at top speed, over a hundred stories above the Vegas Strip.

Now all Canwells are back home in New England (and Dean and Lorraine are due back from their own junket today, as I type this), so things are getting back to “normal.” In addition to this little update on our ramblings, these tidbits may be of interest …

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We’re eleven days behind schedule, but we want to wish a mighty happy (if belated) 98th birthday to Bernice Taylor. Ms. Taylor’s niece, Judy Holliday, contacted us on June 20th to remind us of her aunt’s birthday. And who is Bernice Taylor, you might ask — we’ll let Judy supply that answer:

“[Bernice’s] likeness was used by illustrator Milton Caniff in the Terry and the Pirates comic series. Milton saw her in an AP photo that circulated across the US, showing her sitting on a jeep in military fatigues, helmet, and men’s combat boots. He was trying to formulate a character for his comics based on an Army nurse, and he thought she looked like ‘the perfect Nurse Taffy [Tucker].’ She beat out over thirty other nurses who were interviewed. However, her mother didn’t give permission to use Bernice’s service picture for almost three years.”

Q4_Bernice_nurse

Bernice Taylor in uniform during the 1940s

Judy reports her aunt is frail, and has problems with her vision and hearing, but is still sharp of mind and “she can still recount her military assignments during WWII, though she prefers not to; she says, ‘The war was over a long time ago…'” That’s true, of course, but the distance created by Time in no way diminishes the good works Ms. Taylor contributed, both in her real-life work as a nurse in the 73rd Evac Unit and as the inspiration for the tales Milton Caniff weaved around her fictional counterpart, Nurse Taffy Tucker.

TAFFY AGONIZES_1

Taffy, stricken with amnesia, faces grave uncertainty in this dramatic panel from Caniff’s TERRY AND THE PIRATES.

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Our next big push: wrapping up the first volume of Red Barry and getting this hard-hitting police series over to the printer. Series creator Will Gould was a colorful character of the first order; we’ll have more about him in this space later this year, as we get closer to Red‘s on-sale date. For now, suffice it to say that before he went into the comics-continuity game, he was a working newspaperman while still in his teens, producing sports cartoons for major New York metro dailies and national syndication. Here’s a sample of his sports work …

Gould_Brooklyn DAILY EAGLE_Apr 16 1926

… And of course we’ll have lots of other “Gould goodies” in Red Barry, Volume 1!

The Big Time on the Small Screen

Some readers of our sixth Steve Canyon volume, covering strips published in the years 1957-58, had a question about my text feature for that book. Those inquiries can be summed up with one pithy question: “Where’s the write-up about the Canyon TV show?”

A CANYON ad of the sort that ran in newspapers from coast to coast in the late 1950s.

 

True, that series debuted as part of the NBC 1958 television season, starring Dean Fredericks as Light Colonel Stevenson B. It ran for thirty-four episodes broadcast in 1958-59, and then the ABC network put Canyon into its summer rerun schedule during 1960. (Remember when there was a summer rerun schedule? Seems like ancient history in these days of two hundred channels and streaming video, doesn’t it?)

So I pushed discussion of the show into our upcoming 1959-60 volume, scheduled to be on sale before the end of this year. Why make such a call? It was hardly an inappropriate decision — the show aired more episodes during the ’59-60 period than it did in 1958, after all. There is also an awful lot going on, both in the comic strip and in Milton Caniff’s life, during this particular period, and discussion of the show fits better into the overall flow of the material I’ll cover in Volume 7 than if I had shoehorned it into Volume 6.

Whether you’re a fan of Steve’s television persona or a Caniff fan curious to learn more of this “small screen alternate universe” version of Canyon, rest assured you’ll be getting what I like to think is some pretty nifty coverage when you open up “School for Spies,” Steve Canyon Volume 7, coming your way as the leaves litter the ground. Meanwhile, in addition to that newspaper ad for the series I ran up above, here are some publicity photos related to the series not currently expected to appear in the book, just to whet your appetite for what’s to come …

Dean Fredericks as Steve Canyon, with Milton Caniff showing off his rendering of the actor as his flyboy hero.

 

DEAN F_FFA RECRUITMENT 1

Dean Fredericks with Future Farmers of America (FFA), touring Richards-Gebaur Air Force Base as part of an FFA convention held in Kansas City, Missouri.

 

DEAN F_FFA RECRUITMENT 2

Fredericks adjusts the tie of Air Force recruit Larry King (no not THAT Larry King!) prior to the start of the FFA airbase tour.

MILT_DEAN F_RECOGNIZED

Fredericks is recognized for his Air Force recruitment work by Lieutenant General James Briggs while Milton Caniff looks on and smiles. As Al Capp might phrase it, “What’s good for Dean Fredericks is good for STEVE CANYON!”

A Centennial Salute

Flag Day is June 14th, and this year isn’t just any Flag Day, it’s the 100th anniversary of Flag Day. Yes, in 1916 President Wilson established the date as a way each year to say, “Hurrah for the red-white-and-blue.” Flag Day isn’t an official Federal holiday the way Memorial and Labor Days are, and unlike “big” holidays such as Christmas and New Years, it has always pretty much passed without notice on the nation’s comics pages.

Still, since we haven’t done a “fantasy comics page” in a while, I thought it might be fun to mark this upcoming centennial with a new fantasy page made up of strips published on the fortieth anniversary of Flag Day, June 14th of 1956. Aside from their date of publication, there’s another common thread running through all of these strips. Can you guess what it is? (Click on any strip for a larger view.) Join me on the other side for the answer …

BLONDIE_Thu 061456

ARCHIE

NANCY

SCAMP

POGO

GORDO

HENRY

GRANDMA by Chas Kuhn

REVEREND by Bill OMalley

RIVETS by George Sixta

 

Note that, besides sharing the same date of publication, all the strips above feature one-word titles …

Blondie and Archie are “big name” strips with LOAC connections, while to the best of my recollection we’ve never run a Nancy in this space before.

Dick Moores and writer Ward Greene served up this installment of Scamp, while Pogo certainly needs no introduction to lovers of good comics everywhere. Gus Arriola’s Gordo always puts a smile on my face, while Henry serves up a very different view of childhood.

Finally, we put three now-relatively-forgotten strips into the mix: Grandma, from Charles Kuhn (who did hard manual labor, including serving as a fireman aboard USS Connecticut during World War I, then spent years as an editorial cartoonist before starting Grandma in 1947, when he was fifty-five years of age); The Reverend, by Bill O’Malley (a prolific magazine cartoonist who lived on the West Coast, placed work in magazines ranging from Ladies Home Journal to Playboy, and had his cartoons — related to golf, travel, and his “Two Little Nuns,” Sister Maureen and Sister Colleen — all collected into book form); and Chicagoan George Sixta’s Rivets (the lead character was based on several Navy mascots Sixta had observed during his own military tour of duty; Sixta worked for the Chicago Sun-Times; originally produced the strip Dick Draper, Foreign Correspondent; and published cartoons in the Saturday Evening Post, which is where Rivets made its debut before becoming a Field Enterprises comic strip). The star of Sixta’s strip is supposed to be a wire-haired terrier, and since my own dog is part (predominantly!) terrier, how could I pass up including Rivets in this “one-name wonders” fantasy comics page?

Here’s hoping everyone has a Happy Flag Day —

 

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