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July 24, 2009


Five Still-Anticipated Reprints

Today in San Diego, all things going as they should, I will be moderating a panel on comic strip reprint projects. This is a great panel to moderate because the audience is really into it and there's really only time to say what each panelist is up to and then throw the focus out to the audience for questions. This year Leonard Starr is participating, so I'll get to ask him a question or two as well. What a fun opportunity.

It is a magnificent time for reprints and collections on just about every level and entry point. There are thriving lines at D&Q, Dark Horse, Andrews McMeel, Norton, Fantagraphics, NBM and IDW, and a strong presence of one or two books at a lot of smaller publishers. Still, as comics fans, it is our sacred duty to want more than what we're given. Here are five projects of the top of my head I'd like to see join the ranks of recent reprints -- mostly comic strips, but I'll include other types of comics as well. Hopefully, by the end of today's panel I'll have news about one or more of the following.

In lieu of a Five For Friday, , I'll run them next Thursday. Just mark it "five for friday."

*****

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1. Barnaby, Crockett Johnson, Field Enterprises Syndicate, 1942-1952.
It's amazing that Barnaby hasn't yet been the subject of some deal somewhere. It was on the wish list of every publisher of significance going into this new Age of Reprints, and remains near the top of many such lists even now. My guess is that as Johnson enjoyed a lucrative career as an illustrator of childrens books, those in charge of the character and his strip are waiting for some sort of similar deal regarding this older material. Comics deals can be different than book deals, in that while they can be lucrative over time that's nearly always because of an accumulation of sales, not because of a hefty advance. This is all speculation on my part, however.

The work in Crockett Johnson's masterpiece is likely more familiar to hardcore comics fans than a lot of material in active reprints: it's a funny strip, affectionately told, and features Johnson's lovely art. I want this to be someone's project soon just so I can watch art directors throw themselves at that publisher for a crack at designing the books. But mostly I want these books.

*****

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2. Rudy, William Overgaard, United Features Syndicate, 1983-1985
I'd love to see someone at least pick up rights to reprint Rudy In Hollywood, this strip's sole and hard-to-find collection, although a complete volume would be ideal. Rudy was a beautifully drawn strip about a former Hollywood entertainer of the simian variety who tries to make his way in the world as it becomes more and more of a place where older celebrities and their ascots are no longer welcome. In fact, I think someone should do a series of one-shots featuring interesting failed strips -- I can't imagine it would cost much, and done right I think they could even sell. Who wouldn't want a book of the best Franklin Fibbs stuff?

*****
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3. Trots and Bonnie, Shary Flenniken, National Lampoon, 1972-1990.
This is the kind of strip that actually could have a deal -- Abrams Comic Art would seem a perfect home -- and I just wouldn't know about it. It's lovely work, and one of a kind, and has a significant fanbase I think shrinks with every passing year. Getting this out sooner rather than later might be a very good idea. I'm sure Flenniken's been asked, and I couldn't tell you why it hasn't happened to date.

*****

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4. The Bungle Family, Harry J. Tuthill, New York Evening Mail, 1918-1945
Art Spiegelman threw down the gauntlet on this one when he declared it the most underrated comics work of all time (or something equally dramatic) for an issue of (I think) Smithsonian. Blondie was the overrated pick, and it's hard to argue with that one, so it makes you wonder about Harry Tuthill's life work. I like The Bungle Family more and more every time I look at it: it has a generally restrained feel but it still moves very well when it has to. The humor seems grounded in the worst expectations of mankind, like so many of my favorite family comedies. I suspect that this would sell terribly, but it would be nice if someone could come out with a solid chunk all in one book just so we could finally know if Spiegelman was right or wrong.

*****

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5. L'Autoroute Du Soleil, Baru, Casterman, 1995.
This seems to me like the perfect book for someone to collect to catch the forthcoming second dip into early 1990s nostalgia ready to hit in 2010-2012 or so. I believe this was a result of that effort to do European works with a manga flavor to them in order to sell in both markets, but I could be totally wrong about that. What I do know is that it's cool-looking, and reminiscent of the Alain Delon-interested part of the Clinton Decade, and it's one of the few books that I get asked about three to five times a year without fail.

*****
*****
 
posted 4:30 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
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