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Louis Wysocki On Creating A Complete Strip Archive
posted July 29, 2009

After submitting the Five for Friday list of comic strips I’d like to see reprinted, I immediately thought of at least another half dozen strips I would have liked to suggest. Some of what I submitted was a result of my having read some of these strips when I was a youngster: the New York Daily News every morning, and the Bridgeport Post in the afternoon. I lived a block away from my grandparents, and my grandfather, set in his ways, had me pick up the papers every day when they arrived at the newsstand/cigar store (a great place to get comics and science fiction magazines also; I wish such places never went away) adjacent to their apartment building. Once getting the papers (the News in the mornings, and the Post after 2 PM in the afternoon), I would bring them to my grandfather, and would wait until he finished reading them before I could look at them myself—the rule in his household was that he always read the papers first, or else. So much of my love of the comic strips had come from the waiting for the paper to be available, and diving into their contents.

What strips they were! Dick Tracy, On Stage, Winnie Winkle, Moon Mullins, Lil Abner, Smoky Stover, Henry, Dondi, Pogo, Little Orphan Annie, Terry and the Pirates, The Little King, Joe Palooka, and so on. I loved them all, even if I didn’t always understand what was going on in them.

In my teen years, I helped clean out some attics that were filled with old newspapers from the ‘20’s and ‘30’s, and saw comic strips I had never heard of before (I wished I had saved some of those instead of trashing them, in retrospect). And as time went on, I found out more and more about old strips long gone, wishing I could read and enjoy them.

Now, some of these wishes are coming true, thanks to the resurgence of reprints brought on by Fantagraphics and IDW, among others. However, I know that this will not go on forever, nor will I see everything I want -- I see the strip reprint industry akin to where the American manga industry was about five years ago -- everyone wanting to do it, grabbing anything popular that is currently available, and ignoring some of the more obscure and interesting strips that are out there.

This makes me want to do something about it. I’ve been searching online for places that archive strips so that they can be read in their entirety, but I am not finding anything that meets my needs. I would like to see a place, an archive, of different strips from all over the world that can be viewed, read and studied by generations to come. A place where you can search a strip by name, or read everything that was published on a certain chosen date. A cross between a comic strip version of Google’s Project Gutenberg and Wikipedia, where anyone with information and scans of strips can download it so that all can view it. With the advent of digital, and the disintegration of newsprint, I see that many strips, both U.S. as well as foreign, may one day be lost forever, and I do not want that. This can be done right, with the proper research, people and industry blessing. I’d love to be a part of this; I have some ideas, but do not have all the resources to do this alone.

I am asking you to print my request through your column for people of like mind to get in touch with me in order to brainstorm, and possibly put in motion, this idea. I can be reached through the following email address (made specifically for this project): I promise to keep you and everyone else posted as to the results of this idea.

Thanks for your time, and keep up the good work!