Last time in this space, we touched upon some of the realities of producing strip reprint volumes in a post-pandemic marketplace. Those conditions make problematic keeping any given book available through multiple printings, but we recognize conditions can change, so we stay prepared by revising the contents of each book’s printing file whenever new sources come our way. Then, if we get to go back to print we’ll be providing readers with the newest information available to us.
That approach paid dividends for Alex Toth fans when IDW and LOAC made the decision to reprint the Alex Toth: Genius trilogy in softcover format. That paperback edition of Genius, Isolated, published six months ago as of this writing, contains background on Toth’s first two marriages that was unavailable to us when the book was originally released in 2011 — in fact, it was only because the hardcover release reached the son of Toth’s second wife that he was able to reach out to us with his own first-hand knowledge of his mother, plus first-hand knowledge of her brief marriage to Alex that he gleaned through the bridesmaid at their wedding. Compare the text in Chapter Nine of the hardcover and softcover editions to see the changes we made due to those valuable contributions. Additionally, over time we were also lucky enough to locate and include in the softcover edition the rare final installment of Jon Fury, the strip Toth produced for his camp newspaper during his Army days, when he was stationed in Tokyo.
Within the last month, comics historian and Screwball! impresario Paul C. Tumey located an excellent background piece on Polly and Her Pals creator Cliff Sterrett, published in a July 1936 edition of the Portland (Maine) Evening Express. If you read our LOAC Essentials: Polly and Her Pals entry, reprinting the 1933 dailies from that delightful series, you know Sterrett was part of an artists’ colony that existed in Ogunquit, Maine, roughly forty miles south of “the Port City.” Newspaperman Edward H. Carlson of the Express told his readers — which now, more than eighty-five years later, includes us — that the Sterretts were hatching “a flock of wild pheasants” from eggs given to them by a Maine game warden; they borrowed a hen from a neighbor in order to help the eggs come to full term. He describes Cliff’s home, telling us it was named “Green Pastures,” and the staff photographer who accompanied him on the assignment provided a photograph of the rambling abode:
The photog also snapped a picture of Cliff leaning against one of the many trees on his estate. Carlson had sought to get the cartoonist to pose with a hoe, but Cliff refused, saying his wife was responsible for all the grounds-keeping on their property. Tart-tongue Nan chimed in by laughing as she said, “If you posed him with a rake or a hoe, it would be a real comic!”
Hard as it is for me to believe, a decade has passed since we released the LOAC Essentials: Polly book. Will we ever get an opportunity to bring it back for a second printing? Who can tell? But if we do get that chance, there will be more than a hundred fifty new words in my introductory essay, “The Downeaster,” offering new insights into Sterrett’s life in Maine. That revision is all thanks to this new information provided by Edward H. Carlson, by way of Paul C. Tumey …
… And it all reinforces a truism Dean and I came to realize long ago: “The more you know, the more there is to know!”