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The Complete Milt Gross Comic Books and Life Story Hardcover – March 23, 2010

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Idea & Design Works Llc (March 23, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1600105467
  • ISBN-13: 978-1600105463
  • Product Dimensions: 11.1 x 8.7 x 1.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,338,968 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Toward the end of a long career spent writing cartoon-and-prose books, drawing a variety of newspaper strips, and in Hollywood, humorist Gross turned in the late 1940s to the relatively disreputable realm of comic books. He brought with him a number of his features from the funny pages, including That's My Pop, about a boastful layabout whose credulous son admires him nevertheless; Count Screwloose, about a resident of the Balmycrest Booby Hatch; and Banana Oil, in which frauds and braggarts are debunked with the titular rejoinder, which became a catchphrase. Gross augmented those with new creations, including ditsy Moronica and annoying canine Pete the Pooch. Such characters' outlandish behavior and breezy, loopy dialogue (which retains only a trace of the distinctive Yiddish-inflected patois characteristic of Gross' earlier work) were matched by the artist's wildly hyperbolic, screwball drawings. As if comics curator Yoe hadn't done enough service by unearthing these long-unseen stories, he prefaces them with a lengthy biographical essay illustrated with art from throughout Gross' career. --Gordon Flagg


How do I love thee, let me count the ways: this isn't so much a book review, but a book RAVE. Craig Yoe's massive new tome reprinting the comic book art of Milt Gross (IDW/Yoe Books, 354 color pages, $39.99 or cheaper on Amazon) is an absolute must-have by everyone reading this blog. Buy it now. Gross was the dean of funny cartoonists, influencing everyone from Bob Clampett and Harvey Kurtzman to R. Crumb. He pioneered what we call today the graphic novel, worked in animation, wrote songs, coined slang, had a long running newspaper comic strip and directed two insane MGM cartoons in the 1930s (I've embedded one of them, Jitterbug Follies (1939), below). Yoe's new book reprints Gross rarely seen comic pages for Picture News magazine and for the American Comics Group (ACG) from the 1940s. He precedes this with a 38 page detailed history of Milt Gross, loaded with rare cartoons, advertisements, still photos and frame grabs that are worth the price of the book alone. A Foreword by Herb Gross (Milt's son) and a clever Fold-INtroduction by Mad's Al Jaffee set the zany tone. The Complete Milt Gross Comic Books and Life Story; To paraphrase both Jack Kirby and Milt Gross: Dun't Esk, just buy it! --cartoonbrew.com

More About the Author

Vice magazine calls Craig Yoe the "Indiana Jones of comics historians." Publishers Weekly says he's the "archivist of the ridiculous and sublime" and calls his work "brilliant." The Onion calls him "the celebrated designer." The Library Journal, "a comics guru." BoingBoing hails him "a fine cartoonist and a comic book historian of the first water." Yoe was Creative Director/Vice President/General Manager of Jim Henson's Muppets, and a Creative Director at Nickelodeon and Disney. Craig has won an Eisner Award and the Gold Medal from the Society of Illustrators.

Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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See all 8 customer reviews
It is enough to keep you laughing for weeks!
L.A. in CA
Gross was a comic celebrity who dabbled in animation, books and even fine art.
David Burd
The book is massively thick and is hard-backed.
Joshua Marchant

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By David Burd on March 16, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Writer/editor Craig Yoe seems to specialize in uncovering little-known cartoonists such as Boody Rogers and the many obscure artists he explored in the four Arf volumes (Modern Arf, Arf Museum, Arf Forum and Comic Arf). This time, Yoe focuses on one of the most famous and successful cartoonists of the last century, who sadly has faded into relative obscurity. It's about time somebody did a book on Milt Gross, the only artist to have his name in the title of a comic book (save for Walt Disney who never actually drew comics).

The book is wonderful, and Gross deserves most of the credit for that, since it includes all of his comic book work in one hefty volume comprising an impressive 354 pages. The comic book pages are nicely reproduced (and not re-colored or doctored) from the original comics and are predictably hilarious. Milt's work is just terrific which it makes it all the more mysterious why he isn't more popular today. (Maybe this book will change that situation.)

But we can't ignore Yoe's contribution to the book, not only as editor and archivist but as author of a fairly in-depth biography that's chock full of rare illustrations and photographs. There's lots to read in this fascinating tale of success in the first half of the 20th century.

For me, the most enjoyable aspect of Milt's life story is how, back in the day, cartoonists were genuine stars, not unknown scribblers chained to a drawing board. From his work on the four-color funny pages Milt went on to work with Charlie Chaplin as a gag writer, among other accomplishments. Gross was a comic celebrity who dabbled in animation, books and even fine art.

I also have to say something about this book as a book. Unlike a novel, it is not "Kindle-friendly.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Mike Fontanelli on March 17, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Wow! There just aren't enough adjectives to describe the brilliant Milt Gross, one of the greatest American cartoonists of the 20th (or any other) Century. The last Gross reprint (HE DONE HER WRONG) came out in 2004. My review for that book contained the following: "A definitive, coffee table art book on Gross and his contributions to American comic strips and animated cartoons is long, long overdue..." Happily, that oversight has now been addressed with flying colors by groundbreaking editor/archivist Craig Yoe. An outstanding, milestone edition and a labor of love which I can sum up in two syllables: BUY IT!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By L.A. in CA on January 30, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a massive book, and it is almost encyclopedic in it's content. The first 40 pages or so contain biographical information on Gross (often quite humorous) mixed in with various illustrations, photographs and personal letters, etc. It has the feel of having been taken from the family's scrapbook.

What follows next are close to 300 pages of nothing but colorful comic reproductions with no text other than in the comics themselves.

It is enough to keep you laughing for weeks! My only negative comment would be that I found the font in the biographical section to be very small and a little difficult to read.

They did a great job putting this book together. Very nicely done.

And a lot of fun!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By GraphicNovelReporter.com on June 29, 2010
Format: Hardcover
When you first see the work of Milt Gross, there's something familiar about it. Even if you've never encountered the work itself, it's easy to see the influence in everything that came after it, from Mad magazine to Ren and Stimpy and everything even tangentially related to these things.

Gross uses a very loose style of drawing, creating hyperkinetic characters who are constantly channeling Picasso by changing shape between panels or sending off spirals and setting off explosions. Intricate, slapstick stream-of-consciousness plotlines exist in a place beyond reproach. There's no reason to criticize a pioneer of the artform.

The subject matter remains surprisingly relevant, even after 60 years: strange inventions, talking dogs, and generally comedic situations that any age group could grasp. As with most comics of the era, the speech patterns and some of the slang might take a bit of effort get used to, but the imagery largely speaks for itself. It probably won't appeal to the desensitized youth of today, but as an archive of what came before, it works perfectly.

The entire book is reprinted in "really old comic" style, with accidentally shifted printing plates and yellowed pages. If anything about the book bothers me, it's that the pages have been artificially, digitally "weathered." It's clear that Craig Yoe fetishizes old comics and cartoons based on his body of work, but when every page has the exact same imperfections, folds and spots around the border, you begin to question the authenticity of the printing. I would have preferred a more honest approach--either clean the pages up completely or present them exactly as you found them. What's the purest presentation of the material?
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