From Publishers Weekly
There are lots of anthologies of the work of the past century's famous cartoonists, but Nadel has done a real service in putting together this collection of 29 marvelous nearly unknown comic strip and comic book artists. Many are reprinted from yellowing newsprint—in a few cases, like Walter Quermann's late-'30s newspaper strip Hickory Hollow Folks, from the only copies of their work still extant. Only a few, like Ogden Whitney's poker-faced '60s comic book Herbie
, have ever been reprinted before. Nadel's five categories, "Exercises in Exploration," "Slapstick," "Acts of Drawing," "Words in Pictures" and "Form and Style," sometimes seem arbitrary; the biographical notes at the back are informative but all too brief. Still, it's hard to argue with the comics themselves. Charles Forbell's 1913 newspaper strip Naughty Pete looks like it had a huge influence on Chris Ware; Gustave Verbeek's bonkers formal experiment The Upside-Downs of Little Lady Lovekins and Old Man Muffaroo, from 1904, is still hilarious and sui generis; Rory Hayes's crude but meticulous horror stories from 1969's Bogeyman Comics
, the most recent pieces here, were decades ahead of their time. Contemporary cartoonists—and their fans—have a lot to learn from the freewheeling, witty, try-anything-twice artistic attitude of the pieces Nadel's assembled. (June)
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Most comics, the earliest in particular, haven't been seen since their original newspaper and comic-book publications. In this eye-popping full-color volume, editor Nadel resurrects whole Sunday strips, strip story arcs, and comic-book stories by 29 creators he thinks are too good to be left moldering in archives. He groups his picks under section titles denoting their particular distinctions; for instance, those corralled as "Exercises in Exploration" show their protagonists on the move through locales familiar and exotic. A few creators--Jewish humorists Milt Gross and Harry Hershfeld, influential animated cartoonist Gene Deitch (Mister Magoo, Tom Terrific
), cartoonist-turned-TV-writer Jack Mendelsohn (The Carol Burnett Show, Three's Company
)----haven't been utterly forgotten, but the outstanding, if not always masterly, quality of the drawing, in particular, in all the selections argues that those who are have been wronged. The book would be the comics-revival event of the year if only it were more oversize than it is, for in the earliest Sunday-page reproductions, the words are near-unreadably tiny. Nadel's prose should have been tidied, too. Ray OlsonCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved