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Didja Know ...? (I Didn't!)

Postby Cnwl » Mon Jun 18, 2012 11:34 am

We've just posted a new item at our website, http://www.libraryofamericancomics.com that may be of interest -- and is kinda fun, as well. Not all the trips we take are business/research related, but imagine my (pleasant) surprise when a recent family visit came with a very large-scale reminder of our LOAC work!

For the details, go to the website and read on ...
Best wishes --

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Postby emb021 » Mon Jun 18, 2012 11:46 am

Got the latest Buck Rogers daily collection. Haven't had the chance to start reading it.

Believe I got a note that Amazon has shipped the latest LOA volume. Can't wait.
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Postby emb021 » Thu Jun 21, 2012 10:44 am

emb021 wrote:Got the latest Buck Rogers daily collection. Haven't had the chance to start reading it.

Believe I got a note that Amazon has shipped the latest LOA volume. Can't wait.


Been reading the latest Buck Rogers daily collection. Mostly done, and have put up a preliminary review. I had hoped the bad writing of Wilma's jealousy coming up would have ended, guess not. And the dropped story elements are bad. But I guess this was true of the time. Nowlan will soon be off of writing Buck sometime in the next volume, so am hoping to see an improvement there.

Also been reading the latest LOA volume. I had to read the end of the Shanghai Peg/Rose Chance story. I knew the ending portion, but the bit about Rose's husband I did not know. Was interesting to see how that all played out. And then we get Axel. I had read bits of the next few storylines in the "Arf" collection. Looks like Axel will be an issue for the rest of this volume and into the next at least. So I look forward to the next volume. Am surprised no mock up of the next cover was given, like in the Dick Tracy volumes.

Again, a preliminary review is posted to Amazon.
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Steak, Not Sizzle

Postby Cnwl » Sat Jun 23, 2012 5:49 am

Hey, (E)MB -- What I appreciate most about your posts is your focus on the content of the books. As a youngster I always had some interest in "behind the scenes" stuff, but my focus was 98% on the material itself. Dean and I both letterhacked in our youths, appearing regularly in the letters pages of Marvel Comics. I'd buy the new comics at my local newsstand or drugstore, read them through a couple times, then sit down at the typewriter -- yes, it was that long ago -- to offer my two cents on What I Had Just Seen Happen and How Well (or Poorly) the Creators Told the Story. Back in those days, in rural New England, I didn't have access to info on how John Buscema or Steve Englehart lived their lives or went about their business and comics formats weren't widely variant, so I had no frame of reference, and that stuff didn't seem especially important to me.

So, thanks, because I get a smile from reading posts (and Amazon reviews) that make me recall those bygone days, when getting a postcard from a Doug Moench or a Bill Mantlo in response to one of my letters of comment was a truly Big Deal.

Speaking of my young days reading Marvel, I'm pleased to have made Don (Killraven, Black Panther) McGregor's acquaintance, and he had this to say to me in an e-mail received yesterday:

"Just finished reading the newest Dick Tracy. Crewy Lou is one of my favorite Gould villains. Next volume in, for me, the pinnacle of Gould's incredible success at pulling in the readers to want to see the next day's strips." I'd say you can consider that an advance recommendation for TRACY Vol 14 ...

Don writes a regular column at the Comics Bulletin website, and his latest installmentis available at: http://www.comicsbulletin.com/main/columns/two-stories-about-my-dad-fathers-day. Well worth the reading!
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GASOLINE ALLEY

Postby XIII » Sat Jun 23, 2012 8:05 pm

Dear Bruce,

Any chance of LOAC doing the early Frank King's GASOLINE ALLEY?

I'm perfectly aware that there's another publisher that has already released 5 volumes covering the first 10 years of the daily strip, but I'd much rather have a LOAC version of the same material.

Why? Mainly due to a bunch of pet peeves of mine. I don't like the fact that the books are titled "Walt and Skeezix" instead of the real deal. I mean, pay the motherloving rights, cheapskates! Secondly, I like Chris Ware as much as the next guy, I buy all his amazing comics religiously, but I don't need reprints of 90 year old strips with his signature all over the place. Give me the standard LOAC's plain, unpretentious presentation anytime.

As I said, I realise these are just my personal pet peeves and you'll never speak ill of the competition, but I don't see why IDW couldn't offer its own alternative version of the same material. I mean, look at TITAN launching their own version of Flash Gordon right after yours. It's a free market after all.

And I think the perfect way to avoid the criticism that such maneuver would cause, would be a CHAMPAGNE EDITION combining dailies and sundays of the strip in the same book, thus offering a substantially different presentation than the competitors. I know Sunday Press did a book of selected Sundays, but I don't like anthologies where they choose what's the "Best of" for you. What I have in mind is a book in your 12” x 16” "CHAMPAGNE" format where every two pages you'd have an entire week's worth of strips, with the 6 dailies from monday to saturday on the left page and the Sunday on the right page.

Something like this:

Image

Image
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How Much Gasoline in the Alley?

Postby Cnwl » Sun Jun 24, 2012 8:26 am

Hi, XIII!

Your last post, regarding GA, is well-written and honest, and both are much appreciated. (The ego-boost side of it is flattering, and I loved your Champagne Edition mock-up, as well!) As you might expect, though, odds are pretty slim we'll be going back to do Frank King's GASOLINE ALLEY, and here are some thoughts from my point-of-view about why that's the case:

A) We wouldn't want to undercut D&Q. First, because Dean and I are fans of comic strips as much as we are in the business of reprinting them, and we recognize the great service D&Q has done in making King's work available to modern audiences, _and_ doing such fabulous work on the historical/autobiographical research. Second, because while it _is_ an open market, I believe the major players in the strip-reprint game share our belief that one shouldn't "poach on the other guy's preserve." When the beast starts consuming itself, that's when the viability of all the players are threatened and everyone -- including readers/fans -- risks losing out big-time.

[The FLASH GORDON situation was unique, by the way. King Features-US granted LOAC the Raymond FLASH-JIM license; King-UK granted Titan their FLASH license; neither side of King knew what the other was doing. In big companies, stuff like that can happen. We'd prefer not to be competing in the FLASH GORDON marketplace with Titan (they likely feel the same, and if King had to do it over again, I bet they'd do it differently, too), but it is what it is.]

B) Believe it or not, it's not a matter of me "never speak[ing] ill of the competition" as much as it is I don't have ill to speak about them. As noted above, I was a comics fan for literally decades before I began writing in and about the medium. Growing up, I used to scour my hometown outlets for comic books and magazines and had my set of comic strips in our daily newspaper (investigating the offerings in other papers was a great thrill for me whenever my family would travel for visits). I'm still a fan, and as a fan I feel indebted to the folks at Fantagraphics and D&Q -- to Charlie P. at Classic Comics and Peter M. at Sunday Press -- and to the others who work hard alongside us to make so much fabulous material available once again. If one believes part of America's strength derives from its "melting pot" environment, then isn't what we see in this current comic strip reprinting renaissance a smaller reflection of that same "melting pot"? Classic Comics has their preferred formats; we have ours; D&Q has theirs, and so on. The diversity of looks and approaches adds froth, while the amount of material being made available -- and our _understanding_ of that material, thanks to the amount of research being done -- is unprecedented. I see no reason to hiss at our friendly competition, I applaud them now, as I've publicly applauded them many times in the past.

C) Another reason to applaud them: we can't do it all. Some folks assume LOAC is plugged in to IDW the way, say, Vertigo is plugged in to DC; not true. Trying to describe the machinations of the LOAC/IDW business relationship would turn this already-too-long post into an epic (and I bet I'm not even aware of all the ins-&-outs!), but the physical putting-together of LOAC books is typically the work of Dean and Lorraine, me or the writer-of-record (Jeet for LOA, Brian W. for RIP KIRBY, etc.), and production assistance by folks like Joseph Ketels and Jackson Glassey. There's a permeable-to-an-extent membrane bewteen LOAC and IDW -- notice Scott Dunbier steps through it to edit LOAC series such as BLOOM COUNTY and CORRIGAN -- and IDW provides invaluable support, too (supplying this forum space is just one small example of that). But Dean owns LOAC, and if he wanted to move it lock, stock, and barrel to another publisher, he could do so.

Because LOAC is more garage band than full-fledged orchestra, there is only so much work we can take on, and the profit margins on the line wouldn't support simply adding staff to increase output. There's more good strip work out there to be reprinted than we have the capacity to reprint ... so again, as fans, it's a good thing others are working in the strip-reprint field alongside us. It's not to say we all don't have our disappointments -- Dean and I began discussing the idea of reprinting BUZ SAWYER and only days later Fantagraphics announced they were reprinting Roy Crane -- but we're glad that so many quality publishers are out there to give such good homes to the stuff we can't publish ourselves. That's my honest perspective on it; that's not just some party line I'm spouting.

So ... if you've stayed through my blathering, let me reiterate I'm not typing all this to try to change your opinion, which I respect and applaud for the way in which it was presented. You're entitled to call it the way you see it, and who am I to say you nay? All of this is just to try to offer you my "insider's" perspective (such as it is), and to offer a look at some of the thought processes that go into the decisions we make. Fair 'nuff?
Best wishes --

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Postby XIII » Sun Jun 24, 2012 8:10 pm

Cnwl wrote:As you might expect, though, odds are pretty slim we'll be going back to do Frank King's GASOLINE ALLEY


Yes, I expected that, and I also expected that you'd give me a very thoughtful and reasoned response with all the whys and wherefores, and you of course didn't disappoint. I appreciate all the detailed explanations. No blathering at all for this reader, quite the opposite.

I only asked because I was in fact totally surprised by the announcement that LOAC would do Gasoline Alley at all, due to the well-known fact that it’s been reprinted by D&Q. Speaking of which…

Cnwl wrote:We wouldn't want to undercut D&Q.


I understand that, and I know you’re under no obligation at all to answer the following question, but I have to ask:

Did you actually make sure that’s not the case, that they don’t feel undercut at all by your book? I mean, did you contact D&Q to ask if they didn’t mind about your GA plans and didn’t have any objections, or did you automatically assume that they’re only interested in the Frank King years and would never publish the rest of the strip, and consequently would never care about other major publisher doing so?

I know there are reasons to think D&Q is probably OK with LOAC’s project. After all, you're starting in 1964 and D&Q are still in 1930, so you’re leaving a wide margin of 34 years (or 17 hypothetical D&Q books) inbetween, and the fact that they’re not paying to use the GASOLINE ALLEY trademark (AND that they’re, after all, D&Q, prestigious Art-Comics publisher) would imply that they’ll only publish the early, “undisputedly classic” stuff (I don’t really know the legal details about how far exactly they can get into the forties or the fifties or even further, just by calling it “Walt and Skeesix”), but still it’s possible or at least conceivable that they could have some sort of plans to start a second series of books with the Dick Moore years, or even that they fear any GA reprint like your book can become a hurdle that can undermine to some degree their own books no matter how distant in time the material is… or maybe they think the opposite and welcome your books as a reinforcement that can only help the sales of their own line… whatever the case, the only way to know for sure would be to actually ask D&Q…

Man, now that’s blathering… I’m just trying to understand the logic of the whole process. Sorry if my curiosity exceeds what you can or want to share in a public forum, and again, thanks for any insights you care to give.
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Re: Steak, Not Sizzle

Postby emb021 » Mon Jun 25, 2012 9:33 am

Cnwl wrote:Hey, (E)MB -- What I appreciate most about your posts is your focus on the content of the books. As a youngster I always had some interest in "behind the scenes" stuff, but my focus was 98% on the material itself. Dean and I both letterhacked in our youths, appearing regularly in the letters pages of Marvel Comics. I'd buy the new comics at my local newsstand or drugstore, read them through a couple times, then sit down at the typewriter -- yes, it was that long ago -- to offer my two cents on What I Had Just Seen Happen and How Well (or Poorly) the Creators Told the Story. Back in those days, in rural New England, I didn't have access to info on how John Buscema or Steve Englehart lived their lives or went about their business and comics formats weren't widely variant, so I had no frame of reference, and that stuff didn't seem especially important to me.

So, thanks, because I get a smile from reading posts (and Amazon reviews) that make me recall those bygone days, when getting a postcard from a Doug Moench or a Bill Mantlo in response to one of my letters of comment was a truly Big Deal.


Thanks.

I don't review all the things I get on Amazon, but I've come to focus on the classic comic/strips reprints and the new pulp stuff. I find too many review are pretty lame, a step above "that was a great!". For the strips I like to talk more about the storylines and who great I thought they were (or weren't). That's what you get from reading great strips: great stories!

One area I think I need to work on is doing a better job of mentioned the introductory essays and extras in these collections. I too often don't do this and I need to. But his is what's great about the reviews on Amazon: you can go back and edit them (which I do with many, especially if I discover I made mistakes).


As to Gasoline Alley. I think D&Q has been doing a good job. Thing to keep in mind is that while they don't have the license from KSP for the name, I believe they have permission from the estate to do these, hence how they are able to do those GREAT introductory articles and other extras in the books. For all I know, they may be paying the family for these as well.

What I would like to see are some reasonably prices collections of King Sundays from Gasoline Alley. AFAIK there's been only one collection, and its a bit pricey.
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Reviews Up the ALLEY

Postby Cnwl » Tue Jun 26, 2012 4:47 am

Hi, (E)MB -- Couldn't agree with you more about the strips offering great story content, and I enjoy seeing reviewers talk about them. The packaging is important, but in the final analysis it's the sizzle -- the contents of the package are the steak! It's rewarding when reviewers provide a focus on the meat of the books -- and we're willing to discuss all aspects of our product to the extent we can -- but ultimately it's the meat that makes doing this work worthwhile.

And yes, since the up-front material tends to be my baliwick, I'd welcome any comments regarding the historical/biographical material. As I tell Amazon.com (when I have to remind them to list _every_ CANYON/ABNER/FLASH-JIM release on my Author's Page, because apparently they don't recognize ongoing series -- *sigh*): the text features are the _new material_ in each book, and we strive to make them a worthwhile addition to the total package.

XIII: Nope, we didn't vet our Moores/GASOLINE ALLEY plans with D&Q and (speaking for them now, based on extrapolation rather than actual knowledge) I believe they wouldn't expect us to do so, just as we didn't expect Fantagraphics to vet their plans for the Toth SETTING THE STANDARD with us just because we had announced GENIUS, ISOLATED -- or we'd expect D&Q to come to us were they to announce, say, a high-end series of Mac Raboy's FLASH GORDON. I believe all the players respect one another, but we don't tip off our publishing plans to one another and we don't give one another veto power over our plans.

D&Q's first WALT & SKEEZIX is copyrighted in 2005; the fifth book is copyrighted 2011 -- that's six years to produce five volumes, and six years in which to announce a Moores ALLEY series. Since that hasn't happened, it's easy to conclude D&Q had no such plans. And at their current pace, D&Q would get to the Moores years somewhere around 2030 -- tough to be _positive_ they weren't planning to start doing the Moores stuff during that time, but one can be reasonably sure that wasn't in the cards and proceed forward on what seems a good assumption: the two series will complement one another in the marketplace.

And, just to be clear, I'm a _huge_ fan of D&Q's WALT & SKEEZIX releases! It's been a revelation to be able to read so much of Frank King's output (and to look forward to years of it still to come!) -- the King family's co-operation has brought us invaluable insights into this important work, and Jeet keeps hitting it out of the park in essay after essay -- the packages are attractive, robust, and clever. I greatly admire what D&Q does, and while I can't be 100% sure of D&Q's reaction to our announcement of publishing the Moores GA, I _can_ be sure that our intention is not to undercut them, but to produce a series that will be harmonious to theirs. WALT & SKEEZIX has even had personal benefits to me, since my mother lives in Kissimmee, just a few miles from Lake Toho, where Frank King built his Florida estate! It's been pretty cool to break out the recent books and show my mother the maps and photographs from the period.

That's the scoop, from my perspective -- hope it's beneficial ...
Best wishes --

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D&Q APPROVES

Postby XIII » Wed Jun 27, 2012 8:51 am

As beneficial and appreciated as all your posts, Bruce.

However, inquiring minds always try to know the other side of the story, so I e-mailed the people at the upper echelons of D&Q:
http://www.drawnandquarterly.com/aboutHome.php

I received a reply from the Creative Director of the company, Mr. Tom Devlin, which I reproduce verbatim:

Dean Mullaney actually wrote us a very nice letter explaining that they wanted to do the Moore GASOLINE ALLEYs and asked for our blessing. We don't see it as a conflict at all. We're happy that more great cartooning work is out there.


I suppose this is one of those cases where the left hand doesn't know what the right hand is doing. In any event, it's good to know they're OK and respect is mutual between the 2 companies.
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Postby Edward J Grug III » Wed Jun 27, 2012 5:06 pm

Man, it is really starting to seem like you are trying to find a controversy! :P
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Postby XIII » Wed Jun 27, 2012 5:55 pm

On the contrary, I'm glad harmony reigns all around.

Furthermore, maybe I came off too harsh on D&Q in my first comment. I don't really hate their ways to present the "Walt and Skeesix" books that much, that's why I insisted on labelling my complaints as pet peeves, minor annoyances that surely don't bother anyone else but me.

The rest is just curiosity and shooting the breeze...
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Cornfirmed

Postby Cnwl » Wed Jun 27, 2012 8:46 pm

Well, I didn't know Dean had reached out in any way to the D&Q folks (we run a "virtual office," since we live 1,500 miles apart -- and both of are are 3,000 miles from IDW HQ -- so it's impossible to clue each other in on all our activities in a given day/week/month), but Tom D.'s response certainly buttresses my point that all of us in the strip reprint business try to maintain a collegial relationship with one another.

Something to be at least a little proud of in a business where the history is rife with tales of backstabbing, double-dealing, and hard feelings, isn't it? At the end of the day, we're all servants of the material, trying to do our best by this great work and the equally great talents who produced it ... and Dean and I know that definitely extends to the readers who care deeply about the classic strips, who support our books, and who keep us in business.
Best wishes --

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Postby emb021 » Thu Jun 28, 2012 9:28 am

I've ordered the 2nd volume of the Buck Rogers Sundays collection. I look forward to getting it to see how they have progressed.

I see that Outland will be coming out next month. Can't wait.

The third Mickey Mouse dailies is out. Will need to order it.

Several other collections are supposed to come out in the next few months I am looking for: Buz Sawyer, Buck Rogers dailies, Steve canyon, Captain Easy. No idea when the next Tracy, LOA, and Li'l Abnder.
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On the Horizon

Postby Cnwl » Fri Jun 29, 2012 4:37 am

Hey, EMB --

I'm looking forward to many of the same releases you list. I've already read the "Sultry's Tiger" sequence from BUZ SAWYER -- it'll make your eyes go wide, I'm sure!

And CANYON Volume 2 is chock-a-block with terrific story-lines, plus some little-known or never-before-published info in my text feature. Here's one wee teaser -- in a way, a 1950 letter brings Miss Lace back into Caniff's life ...

LI'L ABNER Vol 5 will be out late summer/early fall. Since we just released LOA Vol 8 and TRACY Vol lucky-13, figure 1st quarter 2013 for their next installments. Hope that's a help in your planning!
Best wishes --

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