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February 21, 2007

NBM to Publish Early Mutt and Jeff


NBM has announced plans to publish early Mutt & Jeff strips with Forever Nuts: Classic Screwball Strips -- The Early Years of Mutt & Jeff, coming out in May.

As usual with this kind of news, there are any number of compelling angles. NBM enters the classic strip realm that seems to have done well for other publishers, and does so at a high degree of difficulty with a feature that has been largely neglected and should also present some reproduction hurdles given its age. At the same time, this isn't material that's been reprinted recently or much at all. They are also eschewing a complete approach for a more selective editorial process.

Bud Fisher's strip was a huge innovator in terms of type of story attempted; it wasn't so much that Fisher was experimental as that he seemed to have a relative modern grasp of the feature as a kind of proscenium stage play, and infused it with as many approaches as one might find at the theater instead of keeping to the more decorative, arch, traditional elements of early cartoon strips. NBM is correct in saying that these strips still relate; while Jog is right in saying they can be awesome. You can see the same vaudevillian aspects in early Mutt & Jeff that you'd see dominate a certain kind of show business for the next three decades -- the caper, buddy to buddy dialog, collisions of class and divisions of wealth -- elements of which are recognizable in comedic efforts today.

Incidentally, the building that housed Bud Fisher's studio recently burned down.
posted 2:25 am PST | Permalink

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