Jeet, Seth, Evan and a Mountain of Comics


Thursday, May 13, 2010

Last Sunday at TCAF (aka the best comics festival in North America) I had the pleasure of moderating a panel with Jeet Heer, Seth and Evan Dorkin on the ins and outs of editing/designing/publishing/consuming comics history. It begins with Evan lamenting the lack of proper old radio fandom. Note: I forgot to ask one crucial question: Complete editions vs. “Best of” editions. Not to late to chime in, gents. Anyhow, audio is below. Enjoy.


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20 Responses to “Jeet, Seth, Evan and a Mountain of Comics”
  1. evan dorkin says:

    Re: complete vs best of, I think it clearly depends on the strip. And often the strip calls the format. Popeye needs to be complete, story strips, I’d say, should be complete if they’re decent enough to even be considered for reprinting. The canon, the greats, complete, Krazy Kat, Peanuts, Gasoline Alley, Annie, Tracy, Barnaby, if anyone can get that done fer chrissakes. A complete Moon Mullins wouldn’t be necessary, but I’d love a few best ofs. Ditto The Bungle Family. Some strips maintain and build and grow and you want it all (or most of it, considering the end years slump that hits so many strips). Others are appealing and have their high spots but don’t deliver as often or as strongly. Some are short enough that you might as well get the whole thing in there. Some are just weird enough to merit a complete package, Nancy, The Little King, at least imho.

    I can’t think of many strip projects out there right now that stymie me re: reprinting every single strip besides Dennis and The Family Circus, off the top of my head. Perhaps a best of years or decades –? I dunno.

    Anyway, as far as radio fandom goes, let’s start with the paucity of organized Fred Allen listeners…

  2. Jeet Heer says:

    As usual, I can sign on with what Evan said. I would add Dick Tracy to the list of strips that should be complete, or nearly complete: it’s not quite as great as Annie or Gasoline Alley but it was very good for a remarkably long time. For strips like The Gumps or The Bungle Family there might be a technological solution: a good volume or two of the best material, preferably picked by someone with taste, accompanied by a disc that gives all the strips. That way we don’t kill too many trees to preserve the memory of Sidney Smith.

    • masguy says:

      I’ve been trying to find the dates that the “lost city of gold” ran in The Gumps. Do you know the dates?

  3. patrick ford says:

    I actually love the Gumps. Since I have a complete run of dailies and Sunday pages I guess I don’t have to worry if some think it’s unworthy of a complete reprinting, but as much as I love Annie, I love the Gumps far better, and I could read Harold Grays three (or is it one) plots all day.
    Andy Gump…that man could talk, Min, Chester, I love them all.

  4. Ed Piskor says:

    Great panel!!! Thanks so much for sharing!

  5. blaise says:

    evan dorkin has a lovely voice

  6. Wow, this is amazing.

  7. […] author the books together until recently. I couldn’t be more happy that the two are the same. Dan has just posted a wonderful audio panel of himself along with Jeet Heer, Seth and Evan Dorkin from the Toronto Comic Arts Festival. Readers […]

  8. Rob Clough says:

    I think a couple of the “Forever Nuts” volumes that NBM put out are instructive in this regard. They did George McManus’ Bringing Up Father from the very beginning in a volume that was intermittently entertaining from a modern perspective. McManus got a lot funnier (and more vicious) later in the strip, and while it was kind of interesting to see his character designs progress (and see some characters disappear altogether), the repetitive nature of the jokes made it something of a chore to read.

    On the other hand, their collection of F.Opper’s Happy Hooligan was an amazing read. This was a “best of” collection, with enough variety in story and character to make it consistently entertaining. It was instructive in seeing how remarkably influential this strip was on not just cartooning, but 20th century humor as a whole. Also, while the McManus we saw in the first volume of BUF was still in the formative stages of his career, Opper had already had a full career as the go-to cartoonist at Puck. This was a master cartoonist who was taking a rather dramatic new turn in his career, and it showed in every aspect of the strip. So the HH collection showed the best strips from a cartoonist at the height of his powers; this is something I’d recommend to any comics fan, not just a historian.

  9. patrick ford says:

    The “Best of Fred Opper” is pretty much everything he ever did. That’s how great he is. Really a giant in my comic strip world.
    Opper did so much I haven’t seen close to all of it but I have runs from every decade, and it’s all top of the line.
    Opper didn’t do many daily strips, I’m lucky to have a big chunk of his short run of Happy Holligan daily strips from the 20’s.
    His turn of the century magazine and political cartoons are magnificent.

  10. bryanocki C says:

    nice stereo sound going. I’m there with you.

  11. Evan Dorkin says:

    Everyone’s going to have a personal favorite (or favorites) they wish would be published in a “complete” edition. I’d like a complete Felix the Cat, but I fully understand why that isn’t a popular notion, a wise business decision or a distinct possibility. Perhaps everything will be available on the web or on discs at some point for rabid completists and fans of less popular/non-canon works.

  12. patrick ford says:

    With many strips it’s almost unrealistic to think every strip will be collected.
    When you look at a great strip that went on for 40 or 50 years, that’s a lot of books.
    I do think with the best strips it’s important to start from the beginning with a goal of reaching the end.
    Great strips with shorter runs can be achieved fairly easily as in the case of Crane’s Wash Tubbs.
    Segar’s Thimble Theater presents a bit of a problem. The first several years aren’t all that good, and not remotely as good as the later strips. On the other hand the strip is plenty good for a couple of years before Popeye shows up, and those strips haven’t been properly collected.
    Gasoline Alley is such a great read that I wouldn’t mind seeing the 70’s Dick Moores (King died in 1969 and Moores had been assisting him for years) strips being reprinted at the same time as the King strips. Moores is no King, but he’s still a great cartoonist.
    As was mentioned in the interview I fear that the current wave of reprints may not continue.
    That’s one reason why I yearn for a complete collection of Garrett Price, and Crockett Johnson’s Barnaby.

  13. Rob Clough says:

    Barnaby is a great catch. That would seem to be a natural. Does anyone know if this has been attempted? Are there issues with Johnson’s estate?

  14. patrick ford says:

    Rob, It would have to be the estate wouldn’t it? I mean it’s Crockett Johnson, The Carrot Seed, Harold. There couldn’t be another reason short of insanity.
    The Garrett Price White Boy and Skull Valley pages are incredible, but very hard to find.
    I’ve got almost all of John Gruelle’s Mr. Twee-Deedle, and only a few pages by Price.
    How did I get Mr. Twee-Deedle? I bought a bunch of one colour Nemo’s at a reduced price from a dealer because they were “only” one colour. On the reverse were the Gruelle pages in full colour. That felt good.

  15. evan dorkin says:

    From what I understand, a Barnaby project proposal was put together a while back that hit the brick wall of the estate, who apparently seem to think the property is worth a lot more since they signed a movie option some years back. There’s a Purple Crayon movie in the works, or in production, and I bet that’s swelled heads and expectations, as well.

    They’re nuts, and doing a disservice to the fans, the strip and Crockett Johnson. Barnaby is a difficult sell to the general audience, and even a successful movie would not move as many books as, say, Peanuts or what have you. It’s a quiet strip, a thoughtful, satirical, gentle, dated strip, a — well, you people know what kind of strip it’s like. And it’s not exactly Cathy (thank god). Anyway, they should be eager to make this happen, its probably the strip most often mentioned in this sort of conversation, but money seems to be the issue, as often happens. So, while all these other strips are reprinted, Barnaby gathers dust. Which is a real goddamned shame.

    I’d support a Thimble Theater series, myself. And the Gruelle strip is apparently being collected by Marschall/FBI, iirc, along with Wm Donahey’s Teenie Weenies feature (I kinda always cringe saying that title aloud, I have to say), which I look fwd to both as a fan and as a father who wants to share them with his daughter. She likes Raggedy Ann and Oz and I think she’ll enjoy them as well.

  16. patrick ford says:

    I enjoy listening to you guys talk about sharing comics with your kids.
    My kids (8 and 10) are huge comics fans.
    My daughter has been nuts about Lulu since before she could read. I bought her one of the Another Rainbow slip case books when she was 6 and she still takes it out and reads it.
    She’s read all the other Stanley reprints as well, and takes much better care of the hard covers than she does the Dark Horse books which are beat.
    She did destroy a hardcover once. She read the Castle Waiting book so many times it cracked in half.
    My son likes Zits, he told me the other day he wanted to be like Jeremy when he grows up, he did make a face when I asked him what he thought of Pierce, so that’s reassuring.
    He read the whole run of Omac in one night awhile back.
    There are loads of comic books being published for kids by book publishers.
    Not only the Bone books which are super popular with nearly all the kids at school, but things like The Secret Science Alliance.

  17. Rob Clough says:

    I had heard that one of the big comics publishers was going to put out a collection of pre-Popeye Thimble Theater, but that was 2 or 3 years ago. It hasn’t happened yet.

  18. patrick ford says:

    TCJ #271 has 6 months from 1928.

  19. […] we here at Rosebud have our eyes keenly situated on the past, as Seth has reminded us, the past depends upon, and is affected by, the present. And there is perhaps no cartoonist who […]

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