Gutbrain Records

Thursday, 11 October 2007

This is a great time to be alive if you're interested in the art of the American newspaper comic strip. In addition to the Sunday Press Winsor McCay and Frank King books, several other collections of note are available.

The two books from Sunday Press set a high standard and Ulrich Merkl has met it with his release of Winsor McCay's Dreams of the Rarebit Fiend, complete and in original size. The book is designed beautifully and includes a wealth of information and a DVD with all of the strips as high-resolution scans. It's also limited to 1,000 copies and Ulrich tells me he expects to be sold out by the end of the year. Here it is.

Speaking of Frank King, Drawn & Quarterly's third volume of Gasoline Alley daily strips came out this week. You'll need these to go with your Sunday Press collection of Sunday strips.

Starting from the time I was able to read reasonably well, I read The Smithsonian Collection of Newspaper Comics over and over again. This was my introduction to Winsor McCay, Frank King and many others. I hope Sunday Press collects the Sunday strips of Polly and Her Pals, one of my favorites, sometime. Those were brilliant.

There was a good chunk of Milton Caniff's Terry and the Pirates in the Smithsonian book also, and I thought it was thrilling. The artwork and writing are so good that reading it is like watching a great movie. Now the complete Terry and the Pirates will be published by IDW: Library of American Comics. Volume One came out a little while ago and has over 800 strips, from October 1934 to the end of 1936. Only five more volumes to go!

If you were just thinking that you'd like to know more about Milton Caniff and Terry and the Pirates, I have great news for you. Meanwhile..., Robert C. Harvey's 950-page biography of Caniff, is out now also.

(So I have to read the 1100-page Mario Bava biography and the 950-page Milton Caniff biography. Stuart Galbraith IV's 848-page dual biography of Akira Kurosawa and Toshiro Mifune (The Emperor and the Wolf) has been sitting on my bookshelf unread for about five years. I guess I'll tackle these in ascending order of page numbers, starting with the Kurosawa/Mifune.)

Also new this week is Volume Three of the complete Mary Perkins: On Stage by Leonard Starr, published by Classic Comics Press. I'm not sure I've ever heard of this strip before but it looks great. It ran for 22 years, so after you buy the first three you'll have only about 19 to go.