Saturday, August 22, 2009

TOON TREASURY is here! Yow!

Apologies for my low profile of late... but you'll get another post today. I hope a double-header can make up for my summertime inertia...

BIG BIG NEWS! I've been sitting on this scoop for months! Abrams Books has just issued a beautiful, delightful and insightful hardcover collection of "kid's comics" from the 1930s to the 1960s.

I was a member of the book's advisory board, and several of my suggested stories made it into the book. As well, I have become friends with Art Spiegelman and Francoise Mouly, the editors/instigators of this massive, lovely tome.

My involvement thus prevents me from writing a bona-fide review of the book. 'Tis sad, as this is, really and truly, the comix anthology the world has needed for at least 25 years. But I can still herald its release. (Stanley Stories receives a mention, complete with URL, within the book, so consider the following my way of sayin' thanks...)

Our hero John Stanley is well-represented via the following stories:

"Five Little Babies," Little Lulu #38, 1951
"Two Foots is Feet," Little Lulu #94, 1956
"Jigger," Animal Comics #28, 1947 *
"The Guest in the Ghost Hotel," Tubby #7, 1954*
"Mice Business," Melvin Monster #3, 1965 *

Stories marked with a * are drawn by John Stanley, as well. I'm proud of their inclusion; this is the first substantial reprinting of John Stanley's total cartooning work to appear.

Nearly all these stories can be found on this blog, but seeing them beautifully printed in this lovingly compiled gatherum is to encounter them anew.

Michael Barrier championed the re-reprinting of "Five Little Babies," which appeared in his pioneering Smithsonian Book of Comic-Book Comics in 1982. The reproduction is greatly improved for this go-round. As well, although Stanley did many stories on this boys-against-girls theme, it's hard to think of a more sublime example.

There are also great stories by SHELDON MAYER, CARL BARKS, WALT KELLY, GEORGE CARLSON, BASIL WOLVERTON, MILT GROSS, JACK COLE, HARVEY KURTZMAN, JULES FEIFFER and many comix creators who may be new to you!

Among the hidden gems in this book is a delightful "Nutsy Squirrel" story co-created by Woody Gelman, various second-tier funny animal comix with a delightful sense of anarchy, a Captain Marvel story in which CM encounters Surrealism--and is baffled--and a "Fox and Crow" story that breaks the fourth wall with vigor and joy.

I got Nutsy and F & C into the book, as well as an amazing Sheldon Mayer J. RUFUS LION story from 1945--see more about that in a post I did for the blog Trick Coin earlier this year.

Among the other advisors to this book are Michael Barrier, Seth, Chris Duffy, Paul Karasik, Bill Alger, John Benson, Kim Deitch, Fred Levitz, Jeff Smith and Jay Lynch. Each person made brilliant suggestions and found stories that perfectly fit the book's ambitions. I feel honored to have been a member of this distinguished group.

This book is designed to reach younger readers. Spiegelman's introductory essay provides a great way for the average reader to place these comix within the boundaries of both pop culture and children's literature.

While the book has built-in appeal to us older comix afficionados, the book is meant for impressionable child readers. It would make a perfect holiday gift for the bright young 'un in your life.

It's not a stocking stuffer, though. TT, as we in the biz call it, weighs around three pounds, and is 350 pages thick. I envy readers new to many or all of its contents. You have hours of great reading ahead.

Reproduction is first-rate. A couple of stories are newly colored, but they blend in quite well with the crisp scans from aging funnybooks. I was gobsmacked at the results gotten from the comix I lent to the project. The book is printed on matte surface paper, like the D+Q Stanley books, so you're spared the glare and unfaithful reproduction quality of similar slick-papered tomes.

It's a boggin at 40 bucks. Amazon currently has it for under $30. Treat yourself--and the young folks in your life--to this vibrant, essential hunk o' comix.

And now, back to our regularly scheduled programming...


Gabriel said...

A great pice of news!
There's another book with similar characteristics about to come out and edited by Craig Yoe I'm quite certain you've heard about. It's called "Golden Treasury of Krazy Kool Klassic Kids' Komics". There's swarm of cartoonists in there! I was just wondering in which one you had collaborated. Well, I know it at last!
It will be a good buy, I'm sure!

Thad said...

Holy shit, I just ordered this now! Thanks for the heads-up!

Richard Cowdry said...

This is GREAT news. I'll have to get this book. Thanks for helping to make it happen!

Doug said...

I got my copy already, and it is fantastic! I was expecting generous helpings of Barks, Stanley and Kelly, of course, but the space afforded Sheldon Mayer is a welcome surprise. As is the broad sampling of cartoonists: Gross, Briefer, Bolling, Al Wiseman, Cole, Kurtzman, Ffeiffer, Dan Gordon, and Wolverton among others. Owners of the old Smithsonian collection of comic books may bemoan the inclusion of "Five Little Babies", but that is a great story. Overall, a great anthology presented in a nicely designed package. Congratulations!