January 10, 2012 at 1:08 pm By:

It’s me! Your erstwhile Comic Strip and Golden Age fanatic reporting to you live from the Poorhouse.   I find myself in these somewhat Dickensian straits thanks to the quality and quantity of must-have reprints that were published over the past 12 months.  I tell ya, I was like a kid in a Comics shop–oh wait...

Whilst preparing this article I calculated that I had purchased 46 Collected editions over the course of the calendar year and 33 of them were Comic Strip collections.  All 46 books are gorgeous–they look great on the shelf and they are a joy to read and re-read and they function as text books of comic technique.

I realize the World Economy–like the Chicago Cubs– is in another “re-building year“, so in good conscience, I have reviewed all the reprint books I purchased & devoured this past year and I have listed below the creme de la creme–this is the stuff you really have to have:

  • Mickey Mouse Vol 1 and 2 Race to Death Valley/Trapped on Treasure Island
  • Walt and Skeezix Volume 5
  • Carl Barks Donald Duck in Lost in the Andes
  • Pogo Volume 1

But why these four?

Hyperbole is all but redundant on any Best-Of Lists.  Any apropos description– fantastic art/great pacing/fabulous cast of supporting characters/marvelous storytelling– comes off as tired and cliched.  I have spent the last two weeks trying to figure out why these four are the best of the year–why they mean so much to collectors on a gut level– here goes:

One of the things that floats the boats of most of us comic readers is a genuine feeling of nostalgia.  Many of us started reading our favorite comics at an early age and even though Comics as an art form continues to evolve, move forward and mature right along with us, we are always drawn back to that connection to our past.  It is why most of us are continuity freaks in one way or the other (Love of popular music and Sports—especially baseball–fall into this same conceit).

The following four collections are all products of their original era and provide a special reading experience for all lucky readers.

Mickey Mouse is the youthful every mouse trying to earn his keep, court the love of his life and do the right thing against the evils of his Depression era world.

Walt Wallet is a rural man’s man doing his best to be a good single parent in a Big City Jazz Age that keeps threatening to invade his beloved small-town Gasoline Alley.

Donald Duck is the late forties/early fifties suburban GI Bill homeowner.  He wants what his generation deserves, but he wants it faster and is willing to take risks.  He tries to keep the home fires burning as the next generation proves to be a bit more more intelligent and far better educated than he.

Pogo is Mark Twain’s Innocent At-Home.  Pogo just wants to eat his meal before anyone else eats it or him. But the world is changing and getting far more complicated and sometimes dangerous but always prone to satire.

Do yourself a favor– next time you are in the store take a few moments and pick up a copy of Lost in the Andes or Pogo, either Mickey Mouse collection, or any one of the Walt and Skeezix flip through it. Read a few strips.  You will immediately see what I am talking about. These are rich, beautiful books and they deserve to be read by everyone.
Regarding 2011 as a whole–just look at the list of books I’ve been forced to leave off the must-haves.

  • Captain Easy Sundays Vol. 2
  • Complete Little Orphan Annie, Vol. 6 and Vol. 7
  • Forgotten Fantasy Sunday Comics 1900-1915  (the single best book of the past five year -but at 125.00 and nearly 21 x 16 x 1 inches big–this is not a casual purchase!)
  • Johnny Hazard The Newspaper Dailies Volume 1 (my all-time favorite (I didn’t say best) comic strip of all time)
  • Krazy & Ignatz 1919-1921 A Kind Benevolent And Amiable Brick
  • Popeye Volume 5: Wha’s a Jeep? 1941-1942
  • Prince Valiant Volume 3: 1941-1942
  • Someday Funnies (easily the coolest story of the year in comics– read this–http://www.tcj.com/out-of-the-past/ )
  • Vanguard Frank Frazetta Classics Johnny Comet
  • X-9: Secret Agent Corrigan, Vol. 2 and Vol. 3  (By Williamson and Goodwin, the team behind the great Star Wars strip)
  • In any given year, any one these books would have been a must have–it’s been that good of a year.

    I can hardly wait for next year.  Hey Buddy! Can you spare a Franklin?


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