Digital Funnies: Comics Preservation by Jonathan Barli
March 23, 2006 3:36 AM   Subscribe

Digital Funnies: Comics Preservation by Jonathan Barli. Welcome to Digital Funnies, dedicated to preserving the history of this most neglected of art forms and reintroducing it to scholars and new readers alike. While several well-known titles such as Krazy Kat, Gasoline Alley, and Peanuts are being given their proper due in published form, there is still much of the rich history of comics and cartooning that will more than likely never see print again and worse, fade away with time. [Via Drawn!. And involved in this project is our very own Adam Kempa.]
posted by soundofsuburbia (9 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
There's something hauntingly beautiful about this School Days image...

Thanks for this link.
posted by slimepuppy at 4:59 AM on March 23, 2006

Good Stuff.
posted by Fuzzy Monster at 6:15 AM on March 23, 2006

I am a huge comic strip fan (and collector). This project is a worthy one, and I'm anxious to see the results. I intend to pay for some of the work on CD format, but I wish that more of it were available on-line for free. Those of us who are truly interested are going to fork over the cash to have higher-quality images; why not provide ample low-quality scans for everyone else? The Barnacle Press has taken this approach, and it's been fun to see all the new stuff.

If you think you might be interested in comic strips — especially vintage comic strips — there are some fantastic reprint compilations being produced today. The last few years have seen the Complete Far Side and the Complete Calvin and Hobbes, of course, both worthy projects, but to my mind there are four more important works of comic strip preservation in progress:
  • Peter Maresca has produced one HUGE Little Nemo volume, and is working on a second. Nemo was the first great comic strip, and, to my eyes, has never been equaled in sheer beauty. This volume presents them at full broadsheet-size. It's so unwieldy I have to keep mine under the couch! (Maresca doesn't present the strips in any particular order, however.)
  • Fantagraphics is producing the Complete Peanuts, of course, with two volumes (each reproducing two years worth of strips) every year. It's a great project.
  • Fantagraphics is also producing two other ongoing strip compilations: Dennis the Menace and Krazy Kat. I had high hopes for the Dennis the Menace, but to be honest, the cartoons are lame. The art is interesting, and captures an era long past, but the gags are tedious. Krazy Kat, on the other hand, is giddy fun, and well-worth checking out. (The modern Mutts owes a lot to Krazy Kat, I think.) (Note that Chris Ware is involved in both the Krazy Kat and the Peanuts projects.
  • Perhaps the most surprising compilation is the Gasoline Alley collection from Drawn and Quarterly, a collection entitled Walt and Skeezix (after two of the main characters). If, like me, your only exposure to Gasoline Alley is from the strips of the past twenty years, you probably think it's always been lame and dull. I'm pleased to report this is not the case. The first volume of these reprints did a remarkable job of capturing life in and early-twenties small Midwestern town. These strips are magical. The second volume is due in about two months, and I can't wait. I highly recommend this book.
  • There are other reprint projects, too. Checker Publishing is producing Alex Raymond's gorgeous 1930s run on Flash Gordon. They're also producing some Steve Canyon books. Classic Comics Press will soon publish a collection of Mary Perkins. It's a great time to be a strip collector!
Comic strips are an oft-neglected facet of American art. Comic books get their due (perhaps too much so), but for my money it's the vintage comic strips that are really transcendent as far as story and art. Check them out.
posted by jdroth at 7:37 AM on March 23, 2006 [1 favorite]

Oh yeah — in all that, I forgot to do a self-link: I'm starting a comics weblog which will include comic strips as one of its primary topics. In the next few weeks I hope to start an actual Sunday Funnies section reprinting classic stuff. Link is in my profile, if you're interested.
posted by jdroth at 7:39 AM on March 23, 2006

Thank you for this.
posted by interrobang at 8:30 AM on March 23, 2006

jdroth: I'm bookmarking Four Color Comics even as we speak!
posted by soundofsuburbia at 8:33 AM on March 23, 2006

very very amazing! thanks! : >
posted by amberglow at 8:52 AM on March 23, 2006

Excellent, thank you!
posted by safetyfork at 10:07 AM on March 23, 2006

[this is good.]
posted by ktoad at 4:54 PM on March 23, 2006

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