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Yoe Books: A Disservice to Comics History

We are at peak reprint. Because of this, the only worthwhile publishing projects reissuing old comic strips or books need to be either uncovering hidden gems and critical missing links to bygone eras, or repackaging material in a way that makes it more historically relevant or capital-I “Important.” Craig Yoe does neither.

The hardcovers discharged monthly by the IDW imprint Yoe Books have varying themes and subject matters, ranging from wacky horror stories and wacky romance stories, all the way to wacky funny-animal stories. Yoe Books look like they’ve been put through the Print Shop Deluxe ringer. They are all faux-sturdy, piss-poor print jobs, and committed to a cookie-cutter 9”x11” template, no matter the size or layout of the original material. This is because Yoe is the Spencer’s Gifts of archivists—forever more interested in novelty than preservation.

Eyes that go googly over nostalgia are often clouded by it as well. That can be the only reason these books look like they are assembled from color Xerox copies. It appears that the pages were scanned from the original comic book, blown up, and then that enlargement was shrunk down again to fit the book’s page size. That is why you have panels that look this, by Jack Cole, Dan DeCarlo, and Carl Barks, respectively shown no respect:

If luxury coffee-table books are just as disposable as the original dime-store floppies, then what’s the point? I’m sure there’s an artistic and aesthetic argument about whether or not to alter or recolor the original pages, but I truly don’t think Yoe and his team are engaging in that discussion. They’re just lazy and thoughtless.

A few years back, I was excited to pick up the collected Comic Book by John Kricfalusi and the other Spumco animators. Minutes after opening the front cover, I had questions: Why are some stories in black and white and others in color? Why are only two out of the four issues gathered? Why is there a solitary drawing of Björk on the back cover? The introduction would surely explain all of this, but there wasn’t one. It just opens right onto the first page of the comic. Shame on me for not doing my due diligence. This was a Yoe Book, after all. Why would questions be answered? Throw your inquiries and sound publishing practices to the wind, put on a fez, and join the “Yippie Yi Yoe Society!” Satisfactory reading experiences are for squares, man.

You’ll notice that the narrow borders of Yoe’s limited taste and aptitude for design are mirrored by the borders he utilizes on the front covers of nearly all his books. The back covers are not much better.

I too have always felt like the only thing Piet Mondrian was missing was a whole shitload of text. Below, you’ll see the back cover of a collection of Billy DeBeck’s Barney Google.

If you thought this was minimal, wait until you see the spine, which doesn’t feature the name of the book or the artist. (But sure does include the Yoe Books logo!)

All of these choices are unintentionally comical, sure, but they point to something deeper and depressing. With all these goofy, throwaway intentions comes contempt for the creators. Comics are art—that battle has been fought and won—but Yoe fumbles with this idea as much as he does with a high-res scanner. He has published books (albeit lesser works) by the upper echelon of cartoonists. People like Dick Briefer, Steve Ditko, and Frank Frazetta deserve the appreciation they’ve rightly garnered, but when published by Yoe Books, they are always second on the call sheet. That’s because Craig Yoe values the collector over the artist. For him, the wistful idea of a rolled-up comic book stuffed into the pocket of his dungarees trumps the tangible fact that these cartoonists unceremoniously toiled away years of their lives to create all this “dumb fun.”

But don’t get me wrong, these books aren’t all bad. You can still learn valuable history lessons from reading through the Yoe Books library. Each one is an education into how tangentially-related, middling talents happy to casually speak for artists while also taking them for granted have been around since the comics business began. They are frank reminders that hoarder-fanboys-cum-editors can continue to con publishers into putting their names in bold on the front covers of other people’s work. They are master classes in failing upward long enough that you might be rewarded with your very own imprint.

Is comics history worse off because these books are haphazardly published? The answer is a definitive yes. Print it front and center, in letters larger than the artists’ names.


151 Responses to Yoe Books: A Disservice to Comics History

  1. Danny Ceballos says:

    Thanks for this truth to “power” broadside! The sad fact that I was able to leaf through and NOT purchase a large “collection” of Milt Gross comics speaks volumes for Yoe’s piss poor design, ahem, aesthetic.

    To be fair, the WORST book of this kind ever made might be Bat-Manga! Jiro Kuwata’s name is not even on the effing cover, is it, Chip Kidd? Maybe someday we’ll get a real collection showcasing Mr. Kuwata’s talent instead of what is basically an extension of Chip Kidd’s curriculum vitae…

  2. Frank Santoro says:

    Double yoi !

  3. Matt Seneca says:

    BOOM! Headshot. Well said

  4. Mark Mayerson says:

    “People like Dick Briefer, Steve Ditko, and Frank Frazetta deserve the appreciation they’ve rightly garnered.” I agree. Which is why I’d like to know if Fantagraphics has paid royalties to Ditko for their reprints or to the Kirby estate for the romance comics they’ve reprinted. Yes, the material is in public domain, but if respect is called for, so is payment. What’s Fantagraphics position on this?

  5. Janet Ivey says:

    I am one of those people who grew up wistful with a comic book rolled up in my dungaree’s pocket. I read, reread, and loved them long before many of you were born. I would much rather enjoy Yoe’s books and give them as gifts to the newest generation to enjoy than a coffee table book-pristine and beautiful and expensive as Hell. Comic books were meant to be enjoyed, shared, loved, and treasured for its dogeared pages. not stored in plastic. Yoe Books makes the history of comics accessible to the very people comics were designed for-kids and nerds. Those who can, do. Those who can’t complain about those who do and write nasty reviews. Yoe has done more for comics than most of you dream about, those of you who don’t remember the thrill of clutching your 12 cents to get the newest issue and running to the corner drugstore. Of course as an adult I have a new appreciation of the artwork, but as a kid all I knew was I loved it. And that is what you should be concerned about preserving. The absolute joy of getting that new issue-and Yoe’s books does that.

  6. laylassong says:

    well I have to say you sound like a rival publisher because nothing you said is true in anyway. I own probably 40 of his books and anyone that loves comics or art loves Yoe books including many well know animators. I trust Jerry Becks opinion over yours.He loves Yoe books. I own his Felix the cat book which is beautiful! And clean cartoons dirty cartoonists with Dean yeagal cover art is worth over 800 dollars on ebay.. because why? I’ll tell you why. Because he makes beautiful books collectors and fans want. You need to maybe praise people instead of criticise because you use no evidence and lack any real knowledge about art books. You sound ridiculous. That Jetta book is beautiful! you sound like some who never opened a single one of those books. I wouldn’t trust a review by you. Your obviously biased because your opinion is dead wrong with what for evidence?? 4 pics and one is of a cover that is bad out of How many thousands of books he’s made you find 4 pics and say he’s bad??? yeah you can’t even find or show evidence to support your ridiculous and outrageous claims. Good day.

  7. Jones, one of the Jones boys says:

    Ouch. And yet well warranted. I say this as the owner of many Yoe Books! (sic), because how the hell else are you going to read e.g. Steve Ditko’s dopey King Kong/Gozilla rip-off comics. The introductions to those books in particular are embarrassingly amateurish

  8. Frank says:

    Ah … the elevated art of comics and the history of sequential art. A battle “fought and won”.

    Let us all now become pretentious connoisseurs of this art form and eschew any works that are not re-organized to meet the aesthetics of this new age. Deep editorial content is a must. 10-pages of commentary per panel seems a ratio that we can begin with. Heaven forbid the work stand on its own – rough, low-fidelity… oh… and fun!

    The author of this article misses the point to such a degree that it no longer speaks to comics whatsoever. The material printed by YOE Books are potentially MORE truthful to the originals than any restorative work could be. In that, there is a value – even a “meta-truthfulness” that is lacking from the more polished and produced materials we see in other reprint series.

    Maybe rather than criticize these works for what they are not – think about the aspects of what they are?

    In the end, as a READER of comics – these have proven to be fun. So I think that the author has missed that aspect of their intent. If they had purported to be an archival or “art” project – then there may have been a point to this article. As it stands, it’s a projection of art snobbery upon comics to try and justify them as somehow “valid”. THAT is nothing new.

  9. Frank says:

    “If luxury coffee-table books are just as disposable as the original dime-store floppies, then what’s the point?”

    To directly answer your question: Fun. They are fun.
    It is also nice that they are available to those that may have missed picking them up at the dime-store.
    But… mostly fun.

    Oh – and, in case you or I missed it. I personally have never seen these advertised as “luxury coffee-table book” – not sure if I missed that somewhere. One of us did.

  10. Joyce Maggard says:

    Craig Yoe has made huge strides towards resurging and maintaining interest in comics history and documentation.
    His approach to condensing millions of pages of original material into enjoyable and thorough packages makes for a
    much more satisfying experience than it would be to attempt to combine and revisit these hard to find original materials on one’s own. The selections, packaging and presentation of what many true comic fans feel is important historical material offers up a perfect introduction to millions of young readers. In addition, they serve to satisfy older readers who may be interested in a nostalgic re-introduction to the characters and stories they grew up with.
    Craig Yoe not only grew up with these materials, he has worked with and received the blessing of many of the comic legends he writes about.

    YoeBooks’ thoughtfully curated selections plus hard to find biographical material provides answers to topical questions that can now, in retrospect, be answered. Craig has a love of the format that shines though in his careful research and treatments. His books have been critical to keeping material alive that could easily have become lost art.

  11. Joe McCulloch says:

    FWIW, the complete Kuwata Batman oeuvre was released by DC in three volumes, 2015-16, under the title Batman: The Jiro Kuwata Batmanga.

  12. Ed Catto says:

    I couldn’t agree less! I’m loving the Yoe Books – I keep some, gift some and suggest some to local library. I echo Janet’s well-written comments above. (i.e. What she said!)

  13. Although I’m not offering any comment on the various books cited here, I would like to register my personal experience with Craig Yoe when I was working on my Herriman biography. Yoe was among the many scholars, cartoonists and collectors who took an interest in my efforts and responded generously to my questions and requests for favors. He also opened up his list of contacts, helping me contact Stan Lee and Morris Weiss. I appreciated his assistance, which certainly seemed to me to reflect a genuine love and concern for Herriman’s life and comics.

  14. C. Morano says:

    Clueless. The rant is of zero value. No one is being forced to buy these books. Yoe brings back the forgotten works of many talented artists who knew full well they weren’t creating high art. Yoe books are the only thing keeping me connected to the comics. ‘F’ most of the mainstream PC stuff. We don’t need rules and dictates from the stuck-up PC critics. Do it better yourself!

  15. Charles Judkins says:

    This post is right on the money. Those coming here defending Yoe have no idea what they’re talking about. The worst part is that he steals concepts for books already in progress by other researchers, then rushes out a shitty imitation and kills the market for the original project. Not going to name names but he’s been brought to court for this by a particularly famous cartoonist in the past few years.

  16. Carol Tilley says:

    I request that TCJ add a disclaimer to the top of this post, stating that RJ is an employee of Fantagraphics, which publishes both The Comics Journal AND a variety of comics reprints. Without a disclaimer, this post reads as a hit piece on a rival publisher. Even with a disclaimer, this piece would read less like a critique and more like a cruelly unnecessary attack on a person, rather than on creative, editorial, or scholarly output.

    For my full disclosure, I am friends with Craig, was a member of the Eisner judging committee during 2016 when Yoe Books was nominated for and won an Eisner, wrote an introduction for one of the Weird Love collections, and provided advice on a couple of other titles. Craig and the rest of his editorial team love comics and know gold and silver age creators and their output better than nearly anyone I know.

    His titles are seldom “luxury coffee-table books,” but are rather affordable ($20 – $25) thematically curated reading editions of out-of-print comics. You may not care for the wacky persona and marketing, but if you spend more than 2 minutes talking with Craig, you’d be able to see his knowledge of, passion and deep respect for the medium.

    Yes, comics are art, but comics are also simply fun. They are ephemeral, meant to be rolled up, stuffed into back pockets of dungarees, read until they fall apart. Many of them were lousily printed the first time around. That’s part of the attraction, the joy. If you can’t recognize that, you shouldn’t be writing comics criticism.

    RJ, I admired the comics you created and the ones you published through Yeti Press. You know first-hand that the publishing business is often soul-killing with few rewards. Your current employer Fantagraphics publishes plenty of reprints and other titles which end up on remaindered shelves (I’ve seen plenty of cheap copies of titles like Strange Suspense and Four-Color Fear among others). Even on the company’s store page, where titles like these are discounted, they’re still more expensive to purchase than most of Yoe Books’ output.

    Don’t like Yoe Books? Don’t buy ’em. Don’t like Craig? Fine. Don’t stoop to ad hominem attacks that masquerade as critique. This sensationalistic brutality does nothing to move comics criticism forward.

  17. T says:

    The number of people coming to Yoe’s defense astounds me. Have you actually ever opened one of his shitshows and compared it to that of a competent publisher? Good taste is hard to find, I guess.

    What should’ve been addressed is not so much the incompetence of Yoe’s books but the man’s character. Spiegelman took him to court for a reason. He has a long history of stealing book ideas. He publishes material illegally (the Barney Bear stories are ALL under copyright). And when he does a shitty job of something, it makes other publishers think the market is killed for that particular subject. (Fantagraphics should know this better than anyone.)

    Fantagraphics should publish an expose on Yoe. Then get him to pay you guys not to publish it.

  18. Frank Santoro says:

    “I too have always felt like the only thing Piet Mondrian was missing was a whole shitload of text.” This line has had me in fits of laughter all day.

  19. sammy says:

    janet’s right-why expect good reproduction, or considered formatting, or quality text that helps create historical context and richer appreciation for these comics? fuck it! these are comics, not like, art or video games or some other high falutin’ bullshit. roll them up and stick em in your back pocket! hell, thats what I do when I buy a yoe book-I rip off the covers, take a shit on the scattered pages and then throw them at the nearest youngster drooling over their ipad, “here you go, kid! comics!”. god, people today make me sick!

  20. E. R. Fox says:

    I completely disagree with this review.

    It’s wrong in its presumptions. It’s wrong in its focus.

    Certainly, Yoe books care about what they present and how. Certainly, they present a look at some fine, fun, material in a way that mimics the original experience.

    An original experience that had us all fall in the love with them the first time.

    Often elaborations on the original presentation take away from it, not add to it. Change of that type often dishonors the original experience.

    A design is subjective. The writer’s opinion is not the definitive one when it comes to design.

    As a long time graphic artist: I find Yoe books design good. The writer may not like the over all design, but it is none the less a good one. It is clear, it “sells” the product. It is evocative. That’s good design.

    I feel as if the review should focus on the individual title and if it presents the material well. I feel it does. It offers a sampling and does so in an authentic, attractive, way.

  21. “Comics should be fun!” is such a shitty argument. Comics are SUPPOSED to look bad and have poor production values? Drop dead.

  22. Who are all these commenters rolling up comics and shoving them up their ass?!

  23. D says:

    The Carl Barks Barney Bear stories, and the few Barks Droopy and Benny Burro solo stories that Yoe Books left out, were collected in Norway in an official edition authorized by Warner Brothers. This book came out shortly before Yoe’s. Because it was produced under license, the publisher was able to access original Dell Comics line art plates, so the stories looked as sharp and smooth as if Barks had just drawn them. This also made it possible to color the stories more nicely.

    Not only did Yoe Books kill the market for such a book in English, their decision to do theirs cheap and unlicensed meant that they had to reproduce the stories from messy printed copies of the original 1940s magazines.

    Some will claim that reproducing the experience of reading a tattered 1940s comic book is a valuable nostalgia high, not to mention super respectful to the original printing in some almost religious way. Maybe so, but it’s not necessarily respectful to Carl Barks’ own intent, and it’s a particular disservice to him when much better looking source material could have been used.

  24. With but a few name changes, I could cut and paste Carol Tilley’s response. But I’d like to add a few comments of my own.

    Craig Yoe is providing an invaluable service to not only to today’s comic fan, but to future historians. Without his dedication, much of the hard-to-find material that he publishes would otherwise never be seen by the majority of readers. Many of the surviving comics of the past are increasingly being encased in hard plastic tombs and will never be touched again, much less read. Without Craig’s dedication to preserving this material, it will eventually fade from memory.

    Who else is going to publish this material? And even if they do, what publisher is going to invest the design and print costs of a pricey coffee table book? It’s one thing to ask the hoards of Jack Kirby fans to shell out $100 plus for a book; quite another to find anyone who would spend that much on a book devoted to weird super-heroes (one of his recent publications). Affordability dictates print limitations, but it also makes this rare material available to more readers.

    I suppose if you want to impress your friends with a book the size of a kitchen table and the price of a Prius, than Yoe Books aren’t for you. If, however, you want to actually read some rare comics, small gems of comic art that you won’t see anywhere else, than you can’t do better than Yoe Books.

    One more thing: I can speak from personal experience that Craig Yoe is one of the finest people I have ever encountered in my over five decades as a comic fan and historian.

  25. Frank says:

    “The number of people coming to Yoe’s defense astounds me”

    It shouldn’t.

    The article is an attack – which should not make the counter-points astonishing in the slightest. Of course, the main premise of the article is an attack upon the books themselves. Specifically, faulting them for something the author believes they “should” be based upon… what exactly?

    I’d suggest some sort of pretentious standard of “comics as art” or “the literature of graphics medium” or even “historical stewardship through recreation”. Basically, it reads as if there is some belief that any reprints should be held to a standard of the author’s (or his employers) personal standards.

    That’s a problem. A problem the Comics Journal exasperates in their editorial decisions on what to publish about the medium. Basically – and with respect – sometimes (often) the CJ overthinks comics. Not in a good, exploratory manner. Rather in a pretentious, condescending, and often as a “gatekeeper” of “good taste” (whatever that is).

    Yoe Books (the company) reprints hard-to-find material in a tongue-in-cheek, irreverent, accessible manner. As many have stated here – they are not archival, historical, or scholarly works. They are cheap, fun, quick reads… much like their source material was and is. In that regard, they are far truer to the art form than subsequent re-writes of a history that didn’t exist. Some hidden artform that comic book scholars (whatever “that” term means) study (which also seems an odd direction of intellectual curiosity). Again – they are being over-thought.

    As for personal attacks on the person of Mr. Yoe. I think that is repugnant. This is why I try my very best to avoid the politics and “fan boy” frustrations that plague the industry. It becomes a personality battle with far too much energy expended on the subject than I have time for. Again, and with respect, this is why I don’t read much from the CJ anymore. When the issues started hitting 600-1200 pages I found the investment in time paid very poor dividends. If this article represents the current state of their analysis, I’m not missing much.

    Perhaps the author of this article, the CJ, and Fantagrahics may all wish to stop projecting their desired states upon the works of others. I’ve been very happy with the reprints from Fantagraphics, but I’ve also been very happy with those from Yoe Books.

  26. Dan Nadel says:

    RJ Casey couldn’t be more right, and the hilariously anti-culture and anti-comics history defenders prove his point. There are tons of better ways to publish this material — and moreover, most of it available online for free. So the idea that somehow Yoe is resurrecting anything and making it available is absurd. He’s instead flooding the market and doing a disservice to the artists by obscuring their names and histories. And the artists and the art form are what’s most important.

  27. ant says:

    Now, don’t you go talking shit about Yoe’s Barney Google book, motherfucker!

  28. D says:

    “Yoe Books (the company) reprints hard-to-find material in a tongue-in-cheek, irreverent, accessible manner. As many have stated here – they are not archival, historical, or scholarly works.”

    Then they should be ten-dollar trade paperbacks, not massive coffee table books that are marketed as archival/historical works, and effectively make it difficult for others to publish actual archival/historical works on the same themes.

  29. I know Craig and consider him to be a friend. A friendship based on a mutual love of comics. I’m not going to defend my friendship, but his continued love of the medium is genuine and palpable. When was the last time that The Comics Journal had anything to say that wasn’t based around a false sense of intellectualism and pretentiousness? Yoe Books has done a magnificent job preserving work from the past, good or bad (Hear that, Gorgo?)

    This piece is nothing more than a smear piece by a publisher that celebrates graphic narrative, but thinks little of comic books..

  30. Frank says:

    “Then they should be ten-dollar trade paperbacks, not massive coffee table books that are marketed as archival/historical works”

    I’m not completely certain they are either massive and/or marketed as archival works.

    It is curious that the label of “anti-culture” and “anti comics history” are suggested. Or, that the perception exists that the Yoe books prevent others from publishing. As if the field is limited. If the market for more expensive and essay rich books existed then surely that market could be satisfied. However, it seems the desire finds its audience in those that simply wish to read the material.

    I grew-up reading Scholastic Peanuts books and gleefully purchased the Complete Peanuts as it was released. If the material is significant then it will find a receptive audience.

    Personally, I enjoy comic history, but balk at any pretence or false elevation of the importance of the medium. I’m pragamatic like that.

    When Warhol painted his soup can – every grocery store didn’t become an art gallery
    When Lichtenstein used “process” art in his work it didn’t elevate comics to “pop art” status.

    This isn’t anti-comic or anti-art. This is a perspective that I hold as an opinion. Not everything is worthy of a $70 retouched, editorialized treatment. If it is – do it. Otherwise, enjoy it for what it is – or not.

    What irks me about the article is that it suggests that the Yoe Books does a “disservice” to comics. How so? Who are the gatekeepers of reprint standards and the high priests of this arcane and unique art? I’d suggest nobody is. It’s an unfounded and unsupported argument that (in my opinion) fails to build or support its point – indeed, the point of these reprints is obviously lost upon the author.

    Yoe Books are inexpensive reprints of inexpensive comics that were intended as reading material. Any scholarship, history, or archival aspirations do not seem to be the intent of them. As such, I think they stand up well for what they are. Much like the material they reprint.

  31. Larry Wilson says:

    It’s rare in super-hyped entreprenurial entertainment that products are actually BETTER than advertised. Yoe Books are the exception to that rule. Each one has merits to be admired. Each one exceeds expectations.

    And more, the books Yoe publishes are IMPORTANT. They are eye openers and windows into a past that we must not let be forgotten.

  32. T says:

    HOLY SHIT. You guys wouldn’t know the difference between a steak and a toilet bowl at White Castle.

    For fuck’s sake, look at the scans posted. How can you be reading comics if you’re that blind? I hope to god none of you ever get a job driving a school bus –I don’t want to read the morbid headline about all the dead kids.

    You guys keep asking for examples of how Yoe’s work damages comics history. The Barks one is an example–and it’s full of historical errors too. The Dick Briefer Frankenstein collection (the one where Briefer’s name is given less prominence than Yoe’s on the cover) has scared anyone from doing a proper retrospective. And that Milt Gross travesty has done one of cartooning’s most important creators a real disservice— so much so that the much anticipated Nadel/Newgarden bio was put “on hold.”

    Even without getting into “personal” stuff, the evidence that Yoe sucks at what he does is RIGHT THERE IN FRONT OF YOU.

    I guess you all forgot about the “Complete Milt Gross” that wasn’t complete.

    Or “Tiger Tea” that was missing strips.

    Or that Spiegelman’s “Toon Treasury” was directly ripped off by Yoe.

    Or that “Sambo”–the best story–was left out of the Kelly Fairy Tales book.

    You can whine that this is just a publisher attacking someone else, but on the scuttlebutt level, even IDW is getting fed up with Yoe’s hackneyed bullshit. You think that Bud Sagedorf garbage would be published on a monthly schedule if Yoe was spending any money on it? Take a look at the comic strip reprints IDW does WITHOUT Yoe and you’ll see what I mean.

    I’ve got to say though, Yoe is talented. Making books about fucking Barks, Kelly, Briefer, Cole, Jetta, Frazetta, Herriman, Gross that unpleasant takes mad skill. So does getting you idiots to believe it’s legit.

  33. The Bibliophile says:

    Craig Yoe has made a career out of dry humping the corpses of comics history as fast and furious as he can “to feed his family” as he frequently laments on Facebook. All the while he has no compunction about illegally soliciting for unpaid interns to do his grunt production work or putting the call out for volunteer proofreaders, a professional job that merits professional payment. The production of his reprint work is abysmal, creating substandard collections of this material that unfortunately now preserves the work at a substandard level, doing none of these artists any favors. His books are a blight in the arena of comics reprints, about a half step above Hermes Press.

  34. dwayne stenzel says:

    wow, this thread does cast light on something I’ve been curious about. just how territorial are publishers about the super long dead artists whose work they publish. I’ve only purchased 1 Yoe book, and it’s the Dick Briefer Frankenstein book(published in 2010). and I love that book because those comics are great. but of course the only reason I even know about Dick Briefer’s Frankenstein is because of Dan Nadel’s Art out of time(published in 2006). so does Yoe swoop in and blast out less carefully considered books before the competition can do a higher quality job and occupying limited market space. I guess so. but Fantagraphics can’t publish everything.

  35. The Bibliophile says:

    What the hell does “entrepreneurial entertainment” even mean?!?

  36. R.C. says:

    Anybody with a scanner and some old comic books can do what Craig Yoe does. He announced his “Strange World Of Your Dreams” book within days of Joe Simon’s death, and in the case of artists such as Ditko, he hasn’t even had the decency to wait for a corpse and is making money splashing their names in big, bold letters across the covers and not paying them a dime. Yeah, I know, “Gorgo” and “Konga” are in the public domain, but without Ditko’s name on there, the books don’t have an audience. Obviously his production values are shoddy in the extreme — you can even see yellowing around the corners on the “Konga” cover — but why are Craig Yoe and IDW the onlyfolks making money off these books, and not the artists who actually did the work?

  37. Jack Mooney says:

    Thanks RJ Casey, for slapping the rose-tinted glasses off my face! I must admit my appreciation of Yoe was based on convenience. Didn’t give much thought to the wider impact he’s had by carpet bombing the market with arguably sub-standard reprints.

    I know nothing about book publishing or the kinds of agreements that are made- but Yoe edited the Boody book that was published by Fantagraphics. A lot of the same criticisms (reprographic/design quality) could be made of that. I’m curious if there is prior FB/ Yoe beef I’m not aware of?

  38. I stock (most of) these books at Bizarro-Wuxtry, and even own a good number— but it’s always disappointing to see that Yoe has gotten to a given artist or title before some other entity. His stuff is better than, say, Checker Books or Greg Theakston’s publications, and better value for money than Hermes Press, but how many glasses half full does one need?

  39. Yoe Books are high quality, especially when you take into account the condition of many of the old comics they have to work with. This article seems to have been written by someone with an axe to griend instead of a legitimate reviewer. I have many Yoe Book in my collection and intend to add more. I have never been disappointed by the quality of any of them.

  40. Michael Sweater says:

    All opinions on the work aside (I mostly agree though I think low quality low price reprints have a place in the market) this reads like a personal blog post and feel gross coming from a place that also does reprints. This level of snark is fine and cool sometimes, but only when it comes with a personal touch and point of view in the article.

    This is not what I come to this website for.

  41. Michael Sweater says:

    Also can we stop beating the dead horse about what is and isn’t art? It would be more useful to talk about weather something is drawn well or of value. The word art has no implications of quality or worth, so I don’t know why people are getting so red in the face about it all the time. It literally does not matter.

  42. Amory Blaine says:

    RJ Casey should spend time investigating his outrageous claims instead of slandering good people and their dedicated work.

    There’s enough erroneous assumptions in this piece to make one ask — is RJ mean, ignorant or just a hack?

    Wait, I got it — jealous.

    Doers do. Haters write blogs.

  43. Danny Ceballos says:

    art1
    ärt/
    noun
    noun: art; plural noun: arts; plural noun: the arts

    1.
    the expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form such as painting or sculpture, producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power.
    “the art of the Renaissance”
    synonyms: fine art, artwork
    “he studied art”

  44. I know Craig Yoe, and get along with him fine when I see him.

    That said, I echo what someone else said about the $10 paperback. I might even go a step further except fewer publishers are printing “floppies” anymore. Maybe in the same format of the POPEYEs? It’s all about context. I like the yellowing paper and off-register color, but pretty much every public domain comic for Yoe, Fantagraphics, etc can be found online like that. For those who prefer printed matter, if it’s on paper, make it cheap. The main argument against him seems to be that he scoops those who would do a better job with the same material, and if he did more of them in the format of the $4 or $5 comic, someone else can still do a better version in a $30 hardcover format and those that got the cheaper versions can also get the superior ones.

  45. Jeffrey Goodman says:

    Sam Henderson, Yoe actually does both, as my only subscription comic books these days, at my local comics store, are Yoe’s Weird Love and Haunted Horror. I’m good with my $5 per month fix of his reprint method! And who knows…down the line I might end up taking said ‘floppies’ down to the bindery to fashion my own custom hardcover treats…..

  46. Dancin' Dave says:

    I’m confused.

    Is this an editorial? A review? Or is it a news story?

    One man’s opinion or company policy?

    The masthead says “Feature.” Does that mean this is a feature story that’s endorsed by Fantagraphics, including its publisher and editors?

    If so, it’s an odd position to take. Given that Yoe Books is a competitor, it seems that Fantagraphics is trying to increase its sales by reducing support for Yoe. Obviously, that doesn’t work. Alienating buyers and forcing readers to take sides isn’t going to boost sales for Fantagraphics products, nor is it going to make Yoe’s customers switch brands.

    In a divisive situation like this, no one wins.

    Competition is good for business and it offers consumers increased choice. Healthy competition forces all businesses to do their best to succeed.

    Likewise, restricting competition is bad for the consumer — and it’s un-American. Why go there?

    Moreover, taking this stand puts an undue ugliness on Fantagraphics’ entire publishing empire. Why create a situation that casts themselves in a bad light? Don’t Fantagraphics’ products speak for themselves?

    In the future it may be wise to disclaim such personal attacks with a sentence like “The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy of the publisher.”

    In addition, there are some opinions presented as facts that are blatantly untrue (such as the idea that all Yoe books are the same size) as well as attempts at character assassination (some of which may be personal enough to be actionable). Fantagraphics would be smart to distance itself from this piece for these factors as well.

  47. Alex Hoffman says:

    Did Yoe send out a group email to all his friends so they would show up in this comments section and stan for him?

  48. Charles Haigh Lane says:

    His works betray a naked compulsion to leave a mark upon on his chosen subjects, not unlike an ill-housetrained poodle. His novel idea of graphic design is neither to serve nor frame content, but rather to engage in a hopeless visual competition with it. This, in concert with the ceaseless branding, editorial selfies and name-above-the-author PRESENTING leaves one to wonder what exactly is the relationship Mr. Yoe maintains with the cartoonists he (theoretically) venerates. Paging Herr Freud. But let’s stop there. (The stories of his unethical and unprofessional antics are legion and best left for another post.)

  49. Thanks Ivey, Frank, Tilley and Quattro for saying all the things I want to say. To what they’ve said, I can add very little. First, though, Casey’s premise is wrong. There are more worthwhile reprint publishing projects than (1) uncovering hidden gems and critical missing links or (2) repackaging material to make it more historically relevant or Important. There’s also—at least—making available again works of yesteryear that were fun then and are likely to be fun now. And if you don’t understand fun, you don’t understand comics. (Even horror comic books are “fun.”)
    That Casey doesn’t understand fun is clear from his criticism of the back cover of the Barney Google book.
    Wrong in his premise, Casey is wrong all the way through. His criticisms are usually of things that don’t exist except in his own fevered brain.
    I count Craig Yoe among my friends, but our friendship came long after my admiration for his scholarship, publishing instincts, and sense of humor. I was a fan first; then a friend.
    Before launching Yoe Books (reputedly over 100 titles, reprints and others), Yoe was creative director of the Muppets and, later, started his own company, Yoe Studio, with clients like Kellogg’s, Disney, Cartoon Network, Nickelodeon.
    RJ Casey (it sez here near one of his online essays) is a writer and co-founder of the small comic book publishing behemoth Yeti Press [now defunct]. He works for Fantagraphics Books and muses on “art” at his blog “I Like That” and on Twitter at @rjcaseywrites.
    “Small publishing behemoth” is a nice comedic touch. But I’m not won over. I admit to being vaguely resentful that a wannabe critic of comics would attempt to gain professional stature by using only his initials (RJ with no periods) instead of at least one of his given names. It’s clear that he hopes to climb the ladder to worldwide fame by attacking and slandering someone who enjoys worldwide fame. In short, it is obvious that Casey’s attack on Yoe’s work and his character is inspired mostly by Casey’s envy.
    Nothing he says about Yoe’s publications is accurate. I own several Yoe Books, and none of them betray the sort of slipshod production methods Casey alludes to. Casey’s dislike for Yoe’s books may stem from his, Casey’s, preference for a different kind of art than we find in comic books, which typically start with line art.
    Casey spent a year writing about one artist a week (for all 52 weeks), and most of the artists he chose specialize in smears and blotches of color. Strangely, Roy Doty gets a write-up (chiefly because he draws so many people in some of his larger efforts); so does Ronald Searle (but the examples of Searle are splotchy and smeary).
    In contrast, Yoe Books are always thoughtfully rather than smearingly designed (and sometimes amusingly so).
    By way of illuminating the numerous virtues of a Yoe Book, here are excepts from my review of Super Weird Heroes: Outrageous But Real! Weighing five pounds, this 320-page tome explores odd superpowered beings in funnybooks from 1940 to 1964, but mostly in the forties. In his Introduction, Yoe tells us that the book was over six years in the making, and that to acquire these days the same material in the original comic books would cost $105,280. [As others have already observed, in reprinting vintage material, Yoe Books provides the raw material that is essential for scholarship.]
    Most of the stories are surprisingly well-drawn. You’d think a bunch of third-string crusaders like these would be rendered clumsily by rank amateurs. Not so. Among the surprises, a tale drawn by Charles Voight, later celebrated for producing the glamour girl strip Betty with the most elegrant linework. Another surprise—the first black comic book artist, E.C. Stoner. Reproduction throughout is excellent. And the paper is not shiny so the artwork doesn’t appear in garish color.
    Yoe writes a one- or two-page introduction to each tale, giving the history of the character and the name(s) (and short biographies) of the artist (and writer), which data also appears at the bottom of the story’s opening splash page with the date and issue number of the sample story. The content is arranged alphabetically by the name of the weirdo, from Atlas to Zippo.
    Yoe also supplies a well-illustrated 15-page introduction to the volume, reviewing in a casual pun-laden conversational manner the history of superhero funnybooks, passing blithely by such scholarly preoccupations as dates. Pictures include a photograph of Elvis reading Archie’s Girls Betty and Veronica, No.26. The intended audience for this essay is probably the general reader rather than the dedicated student of comics history.
    Superman undeniably spawned the superhero comic book genre—and perhaps, by association, the entire comic book industry. His success inspired other publishers, as Yoe says, “men of steal,” who produced legions of heroes in tights. But there weren’t enough ordinary human attributes to supersize, so inventive minds produced the weirdos.
    Although his review is general rather than burdened by exacting data, Yoe manages to unearth a satisfying array of new facts and factoids, including a classified ad in a 1938 publication for an artist to help draw “nationally established features”; the ad was placed by “Joseph E. Shuster,” co-creator of Superman.
    Yoe also has fun with the names of superheroines, some of which were taken from the color of their hair. The Blonde Phantom and the Blonde Bomber. “Can you imagine male superheroes designated by the hue of their tresses?” Yoe asks. “Would Brunette Batman strike fear into the hearts of evildoers?”
    Yoe acknowledges an early criticism of superhero comics—that the vigilantes are fascistic.
    “But at the end of the day,” he says, “these altruistic men and women are all about being heroic.” They fight evil and corruption and protect and serve underdogs and victims of corruption. “They are the enemies of bullies. … They are role models for young people. … [They were] created with the operative word of Fun.”
    And there’s lots of fun—and lots of it odd—in these pages.
    Yoe’s introductions are routinely laced with nifty rare visuals.
    Reviewing Strange World of Your Dreams, I said: As usual, Yoe decorates his essay with rare pictures—in this case, the original art of two unpublished Strange World covers, caricatures of Joe Simon and Jack Kirby by an unknown cartoonist, and the cover of the comic book Justice Traps the Guilty No.56 (November 1953) depicting a police line-up in which all the miscreants are members of the Simon-Kirby shop.
    From my review of Jack Cole’s Deadly Horror: Apart from the sheer energy of the storytelling in these horrific tales (truly among the desperately grimmest of the genre at the time), we have Yoe’s introduction, which briefly outlines Cole’s career and profusely illustrates it (including a couple of Cole’s girlie cartoons from Humorama titles). Yoe includes a reproduction of the famed Cole-written autobiographical article from a 1956 issue of Freelancer magazine and of the magazine’s backcover, a spectacular slapdash watercolor of a cutie wearing a cowbell, which, together with the magazine she’s reading, covers everything except her pouty face.
    And several of Yoe’s books offer content that is nothing but rare and wonderful. In addition to reprint tomes that open windows on the history of cartooning, Yoe has published several books in the Arf series (Aft Museum, Arf Forum), each crammed with rare and often odd remnants of bygone era, and Comics about Cartoonists, and the ever-popular Clean Cartoons by Dirty Cartoonists. To name a few.
    Inevitably, comes the question: Is comics history and scholarship any better because of Casey’s attack? And the equally inevitable answer: Nope.
    Except for the advertising for Yoe Books that it flushed out from his defenders and supporters and appreciators like me.

  50. Yeah those Yoe books would be better if Seth or Jeff Smith drew the covers.

  51. Neil Wilson says:

    I’m pretty sure I remember Yoe Books beating Fantagraphics at the Eisners in 2016 for one of the best reprinted material categories. That and the fact that this review was written by a Fantagraphics employee/perma-intern, and of course published by FBI sidepiece TCJ, seems to call out for a disclaimer at the least and ideally some sort of editorial oversight. Alas.

    On the other hand, it is heartening to see that Mr. Casey has seemingly learned so much about book design and production in the three short months since Yeti Press closed shop.

  52. Joe musich says:

    Who else would reprint Jimmy Hatlo’s Inferno ? That is a compliment. Yoe brought Aureal Theater to SDCC if I am not mistaken. Fun. Yoe has a hand washing campaign out there in water threatened areas. Guys got a range. He is trying. He deserves credit. Most of all in conversation he is not pretentious. It is unfair to cast him as the Trump of the comics world. Cuz that is how the review comes across. Did you mean it to ?

  53. A Disappointed Harvey Fan says:

    For somebody who starts by stating you have little to add to what others have already said here, Bob, you managed to hold forth at greater length than any other single comment in this thread. Kinda like your door-stopping Caniff biography. (Zing!)

    It’s sad to see a venerable critic like Bob Harvey squander some of his accumulated credibility playing apologist to the likes of Craig Yoe and his slipshod books. It may be even sadder to see him launch a personal attack on a younger critic simply because he had the temerity to criticize a friend’s work. Accusing RJ Casey of “attacking” Yoe because he “envies” Yoe’s “fame” is nonsensical, Bob, and you’re better than that. And I wasn’t sure if I was supposed to read your “resentment” of him using two initials in his byline as ironic. I certainly hope so “R.C.” If not, then it’s one of the pettier of your digs at Casey. (And it is a dig *at* Casey, not the piece he wrote, the very kind of personal attack you accuse him of.)

    Let’s be clear on that score: Casey never attacks Yoe personally. He criticizes his output and general aesthetic choices. He didn’t bring up the weird cult of personality Yoe has deliberately cultivated over the years, or his trumpeting of his bizarre sexual proclivities, or his juvenile potty humor, the slew of unethical business practices, or the multitude of friendships and industry relationships Yoe has wrecked over the years. RJ talks about Yoe’s books and what he believes they mean to publishing, comics history, and the legacy of these artists’ works.

    And to turn your closing question on its head: Are Yoe’s books any better for your galloping to his defense, attempting to invalidate and impugn another critic’s voice in the process? The inevitable answer is no.

    No Yoe defenders were flushed out by this piece; they are and have been a vocal legion. You just have to observe the sycophancy that’s a regular part of his Facebook feed. When a counter-perspective comes along, it might be worth contemplating without being so quickly dismissive, especially when it has actually made clear the opposite of what you assert: The many hitherto unknown Yoe detractors who have spoken out as a result of this piece. Casey’s piece has enriched the conversation on the issues of what the reprint boom does and doesn’t do well, who benefits, what it means for artists’ legacies. I didn’t see that conversation going on in earnest anywhere until he wrote this piece. I did see a lot of fannish cheer-leading and buddy boosterism, though, which your comment sadly exemplifies.

  54. Jones, one of the Jones boys says:

    Several of the FOOY (Friends Of Ol Yoe) here have accused Fantagraphics of a (potential or actual) conflict of interest in running this piece.

    Of course there is a risk of that, but just take a look at some of the Journal’s other reviews, of books from other publishers, or even from Fantagraphics. e.g. their two (two!) glowing reviews of the Sunday Press Dick Tracy book , or the slating that Journal editor Nadel gave to two Wally Wood books from Fantagraphics (while praising a Wood book from…IDW). It’s not obvious that Journal are coloured by the commercial interests of their publisher.

    Anyway, god bless the Journal for still running hatchet jobs like this. All that’s missing from this comment thread is somebody defending Jim Shooter for some reason, and somebody else dissing Stan Lee for some reason

  55. Alex Hoffman said: “Did Yoe send out a group email to all his friends so they would show up in this comments section and stan for him?”

    Sure looks like it, doesn’t it?

  56. Max E. Mortal says:

    The only thing more embarrassing than Yoe’s books is his WhatsApp comics pals turning up in the comments and chanting “fun, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun”. I don’t want to give you all nose bleeds, but you know a book can be fun and not look like piping hot garbage right?

    I get that the real issue is the complete lack of care that goes into the volumes, the rampant egomania and baffling attempts at academia, but my primary issue will always be how jaw droppingly hideous these books are. Those Ditko hardcovers look like they were put together using clip art. The lack of visual literacy involved is staggering.

    Comics history and scholarship is emphatically better as a result of this article. Thank you.

  57. Adriano Moraes says:

    I am happy to see the TCJ decided to be the moral compass of telling people which comics history books should be published or not.
    That is absolutely not out of line and self serving at all because readers can’t decide by themselves what they like or not.

    Opinion pieces, criticism and reviews are fine, what we expect from the TCJ. Using the platform to trash a competitor with a “we do better than this riffraff” article on the other hand…

  58. Frank Santoro says:

    What about all the Yoe lookalike cosplayers at conventions asking young people to go back to their house to “look at etchings”?

  59. TM Spurgeon says:

    Only in comics can accusations about bias and personal attacks be communicated by admitted friends and fans in the form of personal attacks and not be satire.

  60. I hear that sales of Yoe Books are up due to this article. Maybe someone at TCJ can do a hatchet job article about Sticky Graphic Novels? :-D

  61. My favorite one is the dude who says this article is un-American. “You got your aesthetic standards in my unbridled and exploitative free market capitalism!”

    And to those who think tcj publishing this is somehow unethical, grow (and shut!) the fuck up! This kind of articulation of a high standard is the most important contribution the journal has made to comics. It is still sorely needed in a market exploding with garbage and apologists for garbage, and should be welcomed no matter where it comes from. Does anyone really think the motivating principle behind Barks, Ditko, Frazetta, etc, sitting down to do their work every day was “fun”? You might prefer a whopper to filet mignon, but for Christ’s sake keep it to yourself, because you sound like a moron.

  62. Frank says:

    It’s not really fair to suggest that people are “ass kissing” if they defend the Yoe Books reprints. Different opinions are fine – and should be intelligently discussed. I think the article is wrong on many counts – not because of any “ass kissing” or hidden motives. Basically, I like reading the things.

  63. Frank says:

    “Does anyone really think the motivating principle behind Barks, Ditko, Frazetta, etc, sitting down to do their work every day was “fun”?”

    Actually, one could argue they sat down to earn a living through commercial art.

    That’s besides the point. I’ve been reading the Comics Journal for over 30 years and they do some good work – this article is not an example. My biggest issue with the CJ are articles such as this – which I could ignore if it wasn’t for the editorial staff jumping into the comments to defend it in what I consider a condescending manner.

    Of course, I will admit that I’m fully jaded from my own work in museums and “fine” art – where passionate dismissal of contrarians is met with the type of response we see here. Not a seeking to express views, but an attempt to “educate” those that disagree. I prefer CJ interviews – I find them too narrow-minded when it comes to actual comics.

    Oh – as for “shutting the fuck up” – that’s not really conducive to dialog. In fact, it’s condescending. As if all opinions contrary to your own should be silenced. I think the writer of this article absolutely has a right to their opinion – as do those of us that call them out to disclose their potential bias.

    Ironically, academic “journals” require that authors disclose their bias and affiliations. I’d never hold the CJ to that standard. They’re really more of a fanzine for alternat comics.

  64. Dominick Grace says:

    This piece articulates problems I have found with many Yoe books over the years. I do have several, and I am in sympathy with his “warts and all” approach of presenting scans of original comics without restoration/recolouring etc, as I am fond of reprints of old comics that actually look like old comics (and generally less fond of projects that “restore” often by adding terrible computer colouring etc–though the best series ar ethe ones that combine a respect for how the material was intended to look with careful and respectful restoration and cleaning-up of source images). There are comics and cartoonists I have seen only because Yoe has brought out a collection featuring the work. OTOH, his editorial choices often seem incomprehensible. Someone up above mentions the Boody Rogers book he did for Fantagraphics, for instance, which provides a good case in point. A multi-part story is partially represented in that volume, with part one and part two separated by many stories that post-date part two, and part three is not reprinted at all. That’s simply not a wise editorial choice. Many of his books feature little to no editorial apparatus at all, so are frustratingly unforthcoming about even the basics one might wish to know about the comics or artists included. Some are simply misleading (e.g. the one calledThe Art of Ditko, said title suggesting what is inside will in fact be some sort of representative and high-quality range of Ditko work, but which is really just a bunch of Charlton short stories, and not particularly distinguished ones–for the most part–at that, or Clean Cartoonists’ Dirty Drawings, which includes a lot more very tame work than the title suggests will appear–especially irritating when one is aware that some of the artists included did MUCH more “dirty” work than is represented in the book). Some are simply badly designed, such as his otherwise interesting and worthwhile collection of Joe Shuster’s fetish art (Secret Identity: The Fetish Art of Superman’s Co-Creator), which often places art across two pages, so details get swallowed up in the spine of the book. I don’t think it’s at all unreasonable to point out such limitations and failings.

  65. Commenter says:

    If the goal is to make a case against Craig’s books, actual calm reviews would be so much more effective a tool than bilious name calling—not just against Craig, but against anyone who doesn’t hate his work.

  66. Kim O'Connor says:

    It’s interesting to consider Craig Yoe’s cheap populist reprints alongside Frank Santoro’s current crowdfunding project, in which he’s asking for $2,600 to hand-bind two books. I also find myself thinking about the Fletcher Hanks anthologies produced by Fantagraphics, which were created from public domain comics. (I guess his employer must’ve owned the rights?) These Fanta volumes have much better production values than the Yoe books, but what does it mean to talk about valuing the artist over the collector when Hanks’ children have not (I presume) seen any of the profits? Is it honoring the artist to preface Hanks’ collection with a foreword about how disturbed he was, along with speculation that he “was traumatized by something,” as Glen David Gold does in one volume? Or how about Paul Karsiki’s intro, in which he writes, “One can accurately call Fletcher Hanks a hack, a visionary, or even a borderline psychotic.” Hanks froze to death on a park bench; he had no money and was “probably drunk,” according to Karasiki. Is it fair to take these sorts of shots even as you’re profiting off a dead artist who was plainly unwell? Does it really matter given that Hanks was a known child abuser? Like, which is worse: badly executed admiration or better executed disdain?

    There’s some interesting conversations to be had about the lines between good production value and the fetishization of print, preservation and commerce, populism and elitism, labors of love and acting in one’s own self-interest, the obligations of editors and publishers to provide context and an appropriate level of respect, and whether or not a given project is doing a disservice to artists, comics history, or comics communities. But I don’t think you’re going to find anyone writing a blistering article for TCJ about the ethical considerations surrounding Santoro’s project or the Hanks anthologies–one of many reasons why this article should be prefaced with a note about Casey’s affiliation. On a related note, Austin English is right: not everyone has access to the likes of Chris Ware or Seth to design their books. Social allegiances form a whole other weird layer to this. (You can see plenty of it right here in the comments thread.) Publishing a piece (particularly one this scathing) about another publisher without transparency only serves to undermine Casey’s arguments–and suggests to me that the piece isn’t well considered, even if it is, by my lights, more or less correct.

  67. Dylan Horrocks says:

    *Karasik

  68. WB says:

    The biggest issue I have for this reprint boom is that a ‘CRAIG YOE’ or a ‘BLAKE BELL’ are prominently featured as if they’ve done anything to take co-credit of the artists and writers their collections feature. I’m not discounting the work they put into it, but Irving Thalberg said “credit you give yourself is not worth having”, and they should heed this more often.

    Fantagraphics is a corrupt company of blatant elitists who shoot themselves in the foot. The kind of clique that thinks Derf Backderf is someone worthwhile, their own PR person is ineffectual and promoted their partner’s work ahead of other creators. Worst of all, Fantagraphics put out Simon & Kirby’s ‘Young Romance’ collections- and do you think they did anything differently than Yoe did? Absolutely not.

  69. For the record, I think Kim misread my post…my fault, because I was being annoyingly sarcastic. To clarify…I think Seth’s John Stanley library design and Jeff Smith’s Our Gang cover are bad ideas. Everyone was saying how egotistical Yoe’s line is…well, ok, but Seth providing covers for a Little Lulu collection seems worse to me, since Little Lulu had the best covers of all time. Why not use one of the hundreds and hundreds of perfect images made by Stanley for your design? Baffling.

    Seth books also have a lot of huge positive merits as does Yoes line…I don’t like a lot of the books for many of the reaons stated, but I love Haunted Horror in comic book format! I just think assigning all the comic reprint crimes to Yoe seems a bit much.

    Let’s just say that everyone who reprints old comics should be ashamed of themselves.

  70. Derf Backderf says:

    Hey! Don’t suck me into this shit! I don’t work for Fanta anyways, so why would they promote my work?

    Blatant elitist or no, at least RJ has the guts to put his name on criticism, unlike, oh, you, my anonymous troll. Now I’m off, to try to be worthwhile.

  71. Derf Backderf is one of the most important talents of his generation. In terms of balancing narrative efficiency and graphic novelty, his skill is unparalleled. I will not have him disparaged without rebuttal.

  72. Simon Hanselmann says:

    Hey, “WB”. Succinctly: FUCK YOU. How dare you insult Derf.

  73. Nick Bruel says:

    A lot has been said already, so I’ll just comment on a couple small points… The back cover and spine designs to the Barney Google book a friggin brilliant! Spark plug is eating the barcode! How great is that?! And talk about a spine that will stand out when stacked among dozens like it on a shelf. I point these out because I think it really delineates the pettiness in which the author wishes to attack Mr. Yoe.

    This opinion piece has convinced me of one thing… I need to purchase some more Yoe books TODAY.

  74. Danny Ceballos says:

    Once, on a lark, I ventured into a Thomas Kinkade (Painter of Light TM) gallery because I thought it would be good for a few yuks… I was dumbfoundedly staring into one of his hellish vistas when a “salesperson” sidled up and started adjusting the light in the gallery via a dimmer switch and cooing “See how the light changes his paintings?”

    Déjà vu

  75. Criswell says:

    All you need you to about the target audience for these books:
    “Spark plug (sic) is eating the barcode! How great is that?!”

  76. Jeet Heer says:

    Re: Austin English’s comment on the D&Q John Stanley Library (with Seth covers) & the Fantagraphics Our Gang Books (with Jeff Smith covers).
    For the record, Seth did not, as English claims, “covers for a Little Lulu collection seems worse to me, since Little Lulu had the best covers of all time. ” The John Stanley Library consisted of Stanley’s non-Lulu work.
    Secondly, the Stanley Library was meant to be a uniform library and the art in those books was done by a variety of artists (sometimes Stanley, sometimes , as in the Nancy books, not). Not only different artists but in very different styles. The Seth covers were designed to give uniformity to this heterogenous material … to be, in a word, a library.
    About the Jeff Smith covers, I suspect that the rationale behind that was that one of the major characters in that series is Buckwheat, who when you read the stories is a very lovable and well-rounded character but who Kelly drew in a minstrel manner of the times. This is just a guess, but my hunch is that Fantagraphics didn’t want to create an extra hurdle to people picking up the book by having a minstrel show character prominently on the cover, which is what would’ve gotten if a Kelly cover was used.
    You can argue with these artistic choices, but there was clearly a great deal of thought put into them. There’s nothing slapdash or merely churned out about those books.
    I do agree with critics of RJ Casey that reprint books don’t have to be scholarly, archival and definitive. There’s a great need for cheap reader’s editions. A good example of the form is the Library of American Comics Essentials — which serve s fine samples for strips like Polly and Her Pals and the Bungle Family. https://www.amazon.com/LOAC-Essentials-Library-American-Comics/dp/1613774427
    It’s a mistake to cast this as Fantagraphics versus Yoe Books (among other reasons, Fantagraphics has, for better or worse, published some Yoe titles). Rather, there’s a wide spectrum of reprints out there. To me, the absolute Gold Standard is Pete Maresca (who spends more time restoring a Winsor McCay page than McCay spent drawing it). Other peak achievements are IDW’s Artist Editions, Dean Mullaney’s Library of American Comics, Fantagraphics’ Peanuts books, and Drawn and Quarterly’s Doug Wright book. On the other end of the spectrum are the houses that do little more than scan & bind (Hermes and Checkers). We can all decide for ourselves which end of the spectrum a particular title falls on.

  77. Everyone here has totally buried the lede and ignored the clues right in front of you:

    >>>>You guys keep asking for examples of how Yoe’s work damages comics history. The Barks one is an example–and it’s full of historical errors too. The Dick Briefer Frankenstein collection (the one where Briefer’s name is given less prominence than Yoe’s on the cover) has scared anyone from doing a proper retrospective. And that Milt Gross travesty has done one of cartooning’s most important creators a real disservice— so much so that the much anticipated Nadel/Newgarden bio was put “on hold.”

    It’s not so much that the books are “shoddy” as that they have killed the market for long simmering ultimate historic/fanboy projects.

  78. Dave Knott says:

    Came here for the return of old-school TCJ criticism… stayed for the revived “Blood & Thunder” letters page.

  79. Will Simpson says:

    I’ve always thought Yoe was a suspicious character with a corrosively bad design sense and even worse editorial approach. I once bought a book online because I wanted to read a bunch of Tom Sutton stories in one place, and was basically heartbroken to realize it was the Yoe one. Never again.

    Comics readers don’t necessarily realize it, but they think they *deserve* the likes of this loser. As someone who genuinely loves the wackiness of fanzine designs (my cutoff for fetishizing them might be like TwoMorrows style banality) I can’t even muster a fun, vernacular-design appreciation of these books.

    Also lol at “cult of personality.” A few have come rushing to his defense, but saying someone’s a nice guy, “unpretentious,” doesn’t really count. You’re coming to bat for this person because he socializes normally?

    Also also: “cheap populist reprints” is not the opposite of Frank Santoro crowdfunding. Isn’t taking money directly from the people who want the book, and the community deciding what’s worth funding THE populist model? Not to reignite the Boot Sale argument, but jesus christ.

  80. T says:

    >>>It’s not so much that the books are “shoddy” as that they have killed the market for long simmering ultimate historic/fanboy projects.<<<

    Both crimes were never mutually exclusive.

    If his Barks book used the art plates and included all of the Barks MGM stories, would anyone have been upset?

    Or if the "Complete" Milt Gross actually featured all of his comic-book work?

    Or if "Tiger Tea" was actually in its entirety?

    These are basic, inarguable criticisms of Yoe's output. One asking that these elementary standards are met does not make one a "fanboy."

  81. What you say about Yoe may be true. I must admit I treasure my Weird Love floppies but have yet to find a desire to buy any of his other books. One of the most telling things to me however are; the responses defending Yoe are thought out and articulate, whereas the ones defending the review resort to slang and name calling. It’s hard Not to percieve pettiness. As well I would’ve expected a review of this caliber to be longer and more in depth. The shortness of it smacks of blogger vs academic/historian.
    ps. Dave Knott you are hilarious.

  82. Ham Sanderson says:

    Gentlemen, please. Let’s shelve all further debate until BRIMSTONE weighs in. Thank you.

  83. Based on what I can see, peoples’ beefs with Craig boil down to one or more of the following:

    1. They dislike the esthetics of the Yoe books: I have zero patience with this complaint. No one’s forcing anybody to buy books they find poorly-designed. Aside from a few ill-considered die cut covers, I find the design of the Yoe books to be fun and accessible.

    2. They find Craig’s comics scholarship wanting: this feels to me like one more nerd’s pissing contest. Compared to the guy who makes pizza, I’m a comics scholar. Compared to Craig, I know little more than the pizzaiolo does about comics. That said, my take on Yoe Books’ mission is that they’re interested in presenting the material to a wide audience in a fun, readable way. I don’t think Craig and Clizia are making their books to further enlighten the nerd intelligentsia.

    3. Craig scooped them on a book idea: if someone had written a new piano concerto, only to learn that Craig had stolen the manuscript and published the concerto under his own name, I might feel their pain. However, there’s a finite number of subjects for comics reprint books, and whether the subject is old childrens’ strips or Milt Gross, chances are pretty good that someone else is thinking exactly what you’re thinking. You don’t think Craig did justice to your favorite dead artist? Wait a few years and make the book the way you think it should’ve been made. If you’re feeling generous, you can even thank Craig for widening the audience for your book just a wee bit. ;)

    4. Craig didn’t return someone’s original art: I’m on the fence about this one. Being the comics art collector that he is, I can totally buy the idea of Craig as some snarling, Gollum-like hoarder of art, refusing to return “the precious” to its rightful owner. On the other hand, there’ve been a few situations where I’ve ended up with folks’ originals, and failed to return them in a timely fashion. Believe me when I say that this was never out of any desire on my part to keep the art, and it’s possible that this is what’s going on with Craig.

    5. Craig asked them to do work for no pay: again, no one’s forcing you to do a freebie. I’ve been asked to do many freebies in my life. If I like the publisher, and think the project is fun, I do the freebie. If I think the publisher is a deep-pocketed corporate scumbag who’s just trying to hustle me, I decline to do the freebie, and move on with my life. It’s that simple.

    6. They dislike Craig personally: this point is so subjective, it’s barely worth arguing about. Yes, he’s got silly hair, and he wears those wacky shirts with comics panels on them, but in spite of it, I’ve always found Craig to be a decent sort. You’ll always find somebody who thinks somebody else is an asshole, and who’s to say who the true asshole is? Take away the lines on paper, and problematic personalities is all you’ve got left in comics.

  84. Jeet, good point. Seth didnt ignore the beautiful design of one book but many! Because the only way to reconcile different art styles is to arbitrarily graft your own aesthetic on to all of them.

  85. T says:

    >>>One of the most telling things to me however are; the responses defending Yoe are thought out and articulate, whereas the ones defending the review resort to slang and name calling. It’s hard Not to percieve pettiness.<<>>Craig didn’t return someone’s original art: I’m on the fence about this one.<<<

    He stole personal property. Thievery is illegal. WHAT THE HELL IS THERE TO BE ON THE FENCE ABOUT!?

    I've never seen a group so deludedly and hostilely apathetic.

  86. T says:

    >>>Jeet, good point. Seth didnt ignore the beautiful design of one book but many! Because the only way to reconcile different art styles is to arbitrarily graft your own aesthetic on to all of them.<<<

    Well your opinion is pretty goddamn useless because you were under the delusion that D&Q did Little Lulu as part of the John Stanley Library in the first place. [I like the Seth covers, save the one for Tubby, which is hideous and SHOULD have appropriated the look of one of the original covers.]

  87. I own all the books in the Stanley library except 13 goin on 18 :( ! I read them and like a lot about them as I said above. Was using lulu as shorthand, my apologies sir.

    But yes i should have been more precise, calling a line that reprints comics about Lulu’s friend ”a little lulu collection’ is hard to wrap ones mind around i know. And yes calling it that defineltey exciuses the oddness of an artist using the design he uses for his own books on archival collections of another.

  88. Nat Cook says:

    Yeah, this is making me want to get more Yoe books. NOT a good way to point out their weaknesses, yo.

  89. Ron Spacey says:

    Re: Brimstone reference- LOL . Just enjoyed his antics over at The Beat, as well. He’s a celebrity AND a “wrassler”, you know but his comments here especially would be welcomed due to his close personal friend relationship with Stan Lee.

  90. Thee Pittsburgh Barnum says:

    “Also also: “cheap populist reprints” is not the opposite of Frank Santoro crowdfunding. Isn’t taking money directly from the people who want the book, and the community deciding what’s worth funding THE populist model? ”

    But the people giving him money aren’t getting the book, they’re giving him an exorbitant amount of money to print and bind just 2 copies of the book so he can give them to his mommy and daddy. Talk about your “Cult of Personality”, a sucker born every minute! He could learn how to kettle stitch a binding from youtube videos if he really wanted to, but if he can separate a rube and their money, a $1000 for himself and $900 for his book binding buddy, then why not, right? Yeah, that’s a real winner of a populist model right there vs. a “print something cheaply so lots of people can afford it” model

  91. Anthony Thorne says:

    Tilley, Jesus Christ…

    “I request that TCJ add a disclaimer to the top of this post, stating that RJ is an employee of Fantagraphics, which publishes both The Comics Journal AND a variety of comics reprints. Without a disclaimer, this post reads as a hit piece on a rival publisher.”

    It’s on the fucking Comics Journal site, with a “Published by Fantagraphics Books” link on the right to remind everyone who’s somehow forgotten where the mag comes from. “Disclaimer – Fantagraphics is a comics publisher and the people who work write for the Comics Journal occasionally have critical opinions of other people’s work.” I think that message sank in a few decades back to be honest.

    “Even with a disclaimer, this piece would read less like a critique and more like a cruelly unnecessary attack on a person, rather than on creative, editorial, or scholarly output.”

    Where was the commentary about Yoe as a person in RJ’s piece again? I missed it. All he wrote was a critique of Yoe’s creative, editorial, and ‘scholarly’ output. The fact that all three are substandard, aren’t his fault.

    Hellman, ffs —

    “They dislike the esthetics of the Yoe books: I have zero patience with this complaint.”

    So fuck off then.

    “No one’s forcing anybody to buy books they find poorly-designed.”

    No shit Sherlock, you think people might decline to buy books that have shitty scans and piss-poor reproduction? It’s a win all around, I take it.

    “Craig didn’t return someone’s original art: I’m on the fence about this one.”

    Yeah I can see how this would be a real grey area – do I return it, do I keep it? Ehhhhhhh….

    Honestly TCJ needs to print more pieces like this, not less. It’s like the good old days when Noah Berlatsky used to write paranoid missives for the site about Groth looking over his shoulder.

  92. Alex Hoffman says:

    This comments thread is the gift that keeps on giving.

  93. Ron Spacey says:

    honestly, who would have thought an article on Craig Yoe would attract such discussion, some of it bashing, and some of it constructive? I eagerly await an article on Jon Morrow and the TwoMorrows practice of covering Mainstream comics history.

  94. Jeet Heer says:

    Wait, is there a problem with the Jon Marrow’s magazines? I only read the Kirby Collector, which is pretty good fanzine.

  95. RE Brimstone: Unfortunately for our sense of the absurd, that was an imposter. After the Beat Brimstone went over the line I contacted the Real Brimstone and he says he doesn’t post on message boards.

  96. Jack says:

    A ballsy ‘review’ coming from a blog who’s affiliated publisher’s output is wildly erratic. Sure the packaging and book design of Fantagraphics is better than most… but it’s 50/50 whether the carpet matches the drapes. For every Love & Rockets or Hip Hop Family Tree, you guys publish some unreadable shit. Percy Gloom comes to mind. I could easily rattle off at least ten more books that were complete head scratchers as to why they saw print.

    Yoe’s reprints remind me of the type of gateway stuff that I would check out as a teen leading me to other things either superhero related or not. They’re fun trashy reads.

  97. Kim O'Connor says:

    To Jeet’s point about it being a mistake to frame this as Fanta vs. Yoe: At least for my part I didn’t bring up a Fanta anthology to suggest it that it was. (I didn’t take Mark Mayerson’s question about royalties or Austin’s stuff about Seth to be framing it that way, either.) Implicit in the piece (and Jeet’s comment, for that matter) is the idea that thoughtful production values are the main way to gauge whether or not an artist is being honored or valued. Eh, I’m not so sure. There’s some serious moral disgust running through Casey’s argument that I can’t quite muster from “makes comics that look like shit.” (That Karasik* comic at the back of the Hanks volume that frames the artist’s entire life as somehow being about disappointing him personally, otoh? I find that pretty gross.) Some people are at least alluding to a better case for disgust here in the comments…

    If I squint I can sort of see why the Friends of Yoe read this as a personal attack. The disgust, the lack of disclosure, the comments section full of men (who are, I’m pretty sure, the Friends of Casey) telling them to shut the fuck up and fuck off and die. Dunno, boys. Seems a bit shrill to respond that way to a bunch of Sunday school caricatures that use the actual word “dungarees.” My, is that the Blood & Thunder I’ve heard so much about? “Crippity Christ, you ever heard of eating filed mignon over there in fuck town? No shit Sherlock, welcome to the Comics Journal.” Those mean old coots are probably rolling in their comics nests…

    *Shoutout to Dylan Horracks for correcting my spelling. Much obliged.

  98. I think I’ve read most of the B&T here and certainly a large chunk of it elsewhere. I’ve also had more than an earful, long before this article dropped, as well as since on the subject. I’ve read a lot of complaints that this is all muddied by something called “personal attacks” or something similar. Yes, I used the quotes to be extra obnoxious. In the current debate and previously, what I have heard on that level are mainly very specifically stories of Craig Yoe’s business practices and professional conduct. Yes, those things involve him (Wow!) right there in person. That is not a personal attack. or whatever. It’s the business of comics and well worth discussing.

  99. I had a weird moment where I looked forward to reading Kim Thompson’s take on this

  100. “We are at peak reprint. Because of this, the only worthwhile publishing projects reissuing old comic strips or books need to be either uncovering hidden gems and critical missing links to bygone eras, or repackaging material in a way that makes it more historically relevant or capital-I “Important.” Craig Yoe does neither.”

    What a pretentious fop you are R.J.!

    The goal of Yoe Books is to produce entertaining collections of fun, obscure and strange classics from yesteryear. And they not only do this, but make it affordable, allowing almost anyone to take a sample of works and strips they might otherwise never ever see.

    Like you said, “we are peak reprint”, that’s true. For the most part, these reprint volumes are relatively “high end” – costing $50+ for a mere 200 pages or so and intended for a very small niche of collectors and libraries who desire this type of stuff. Yes, it’s amazing that someone is preserving these works of “art”, but by keeping these high end book as they were, they’re simply preserving these books for “historical” value rather than entertaining people.

    Yoe Books – they want to give people a sense of what makes comics fun, of the lost treasures, weirdness and lunacy of it all – and make it available at a price that won’t kill you.

    And here’s another thing, they never pretend to be high-end books, to be preserving the “best of the best” – they’re allowing you a dip into the world of these old comics and would be the first ones to point you to some of the higher end reprint collections if that’s what interested you.

  101. Steve Block says:

    I’m not sure whether to thank you guys for the fact I was so suckered into the thread that I was waiting for Kim Thompson’s voice of reason to show up.

  102. Tony says:

    Kinda disappointing Bob Fiore hasn’t chimed in.

  103. Dana Marie Andra says:

    In speaking about the Tom Sutton book from Yoe Books (Tom Sutton’s Creepy Things), Will Simpson wrote: “I once bought a book online because I wanted to read a bunch of Tom Sutton stories in one place, and was basically heartbroken to realize it was the Yoe one. Never again.”

    Actually, Craig Yoe had little to nothing to do with the editing or production of that book, though it was published under the “Yoe Books” imprint. Michael Ambrose and Donnie Pitchford are responsible for everything in Creepy Things, and to date, it’s the only collection of Sutton’s horror work. It’s a fine volume with an excellent summation of Tom’s career, some rare items, reproduction from the original art when it was available, and a brilliant selection of his best Charlton work, beautifully scanned, I might add. I’m not going to wade into this debate over the value or quality of Craig Yoe’s books, but Tom Sutton’s Creepy Things is one I recommend highly.

  104. Frank says:

    While the entire article annoys me in its pretension and general fallacious construction (which I’ve commented on earlier) – and while I also find it disingenuous not to post a disclaimer of affiliation (which others have articulated the need for much better than I – it’s also Journalism 101) – AND while I find the Comics Journal to be 30 years of talking down to the comics industry it pretends to champion… what REALLY bugs me is the headline.

    A “disservice”

    This is simply a lie. It is as if the collective memory of comics and comic strips doesn’t come into play. What are the first reprints of Peanuts? Were they of an apex standard? Did they keep the work available and build a base of fans?

    The Yoe books allow readers to discover, understand, and appreciate long forgotten or obscure material. General readership will always supersede specialization when it comes to creating awareness and demand. I would argue that the Yoe books do a massive SERVICE to comics by not filling a niche need, but creating a market of interest.

    One poster above rightfully pointed out that their may well be a future market for material because of these Yoe Book reprints. In the very same way that Scholastic Peanuts reprints and the many reprints of the strip following paved the way for The Complete Peanuts.

    It is also ironic that Fantagraphics has printed a new Peanuts book – “Snoopy vs. the Red Baron” – is this not a populist money-grab now that The Complete Peanuts has been released?

    As for personal attacks on Mr. Yoe, accusations of coordinated efforts to defend him, profanity against those that enjoy his work, and attacks suggesting intellectual deficiency or anti-cultural tenancies of those enjoying the books – well… that type of behaviour is pathetic and adds little to the discussion at hand.

  105. James Romberger says:

    I can attest to the fact that TCJ often runs pieces that are critical of the books that Fantagraphics publishes, and this is a longstanding practice—for instance, I wrote an appreciative letter to Chris Ware many years ago and got a postcard in response, on which he acknowledged my sympathy regarding a slag on him that was in the magazine TCJ. He wrote “that article pretty well ruined me for a couple of days, a great deal of which time I spent lying on the bed staring up at the ceiling, wondering, ‘do I suck or not?'” (well, that might have been a bit tongue in cheek). It could be further said that Fantagraphics also subverts a lot of what they themselves publish by half-assed or even negative promotion. However, Fantagraphics’ collections of older work are dignified by their superior production standards and the sophisticated supporting material, as are the newspaper strip collections put out by IDW as well as the books in their Eurocomics line—and in this, they stand high above Yoe’s badly designed and inarticulately annotated efforts.

  106. John E Williams says:

    >>I’m not sure whether to thank you guys for the fact I was so suckered into the thread that I was waiting for Kim Thompson’s voice of reason to show up<<

    See my comment above. Maybe we're channeling him.

  107. What a snooty load of crap. Yoe Books are wonderful.

  108. Thad Komorowski says:

    The best part of this comments thread is the pining for input from Kim Thompson. You guys in the Yoe fanclub wouldn’t like it.

  109. Chris Mautner says:

    All I need is one comment from Mike Hunter and then I’ve got BINGO.

  110. Eric Reynolds says:

    I have to hand it to RJ, it’s been awhile since anyone has inspired such quintessential TCJ outrage. It’s like 1985 all over again (the reason Bob Fiore hasn’t chimed in is probably because he’s written his thoughts already, hundreds of times over, in better debates of bygone years). For those of you wondering what Kim would think, I suspect he would point out how much RJ’s piece inadvertently serves as a litmus test for Fantagraphics and how most these comments reflect the individual writer’s own personal animus for us more than they address RJ’s piece, or anything about Yoe Books, even. It’s remarkable how familiar these comments are. The “hit job” conspiraces, the fragile egos, the conflict-of-interest canards, the dismissal of contemporary Fanta authors who don’t draw like Jack Kirby or Hal Foster — it’s a real trip down memory lane….

  111. >>The best part of this comments thread is the pining for input from Kim Thompson. You guys in the Yoe fanclub wouldn’t like it.<<

    I ain't in nobody's fanclub.

  112. Eric Reynolds: It’s a lot more like the TCJ messageboard circa 1999-2002

  113. Snorky says:

    You want to see worse than the examples here? Look at Vanguard, produced by the abominable J. David Spurlock. Poor quality, schlock-level stuff. He’s currently strip-mining the corpse of Wally Wood, who he probably never met, but fast-talked and strong-armed control of the estate for virtually nothing from Jack Robinson so he could replace Bill Pearson. He’s trademarked Wood’s signature! Then he sued Wood’s widow Tatjana for possession of millions of dollars in artwork and got laughed out of court, and called out for hiding his personal interests behind a shell LLC. He’s additionally attached himself to Steranko and some faction of the Frazetta children.

  114. Rory Murray says:

    What the hell has RJ Casey ever done?
    Never heard of him, until he dissed Craig Yoe.
    I know what Craig, who is a good friend, has done.
    He has shared forgotten comics with new generations.
    He has done exhaustive research on his subject matter.
    He has earned the respect of Comics pros and fans alike.
    I’m glad that Craig doesn’t recolor the reprints.
    My only critisism would be the price of the comic books.
    $4.99 for reprint material is a bit steep, in my opinion.
    Other than that, I support Craig and his wife, Clizia.
    As for RJ, I’m happy that he has a job. Whatever it is.

  115. J. H. says:

    Fantagraphics is just as bad as Yoe. Neither paid the Kirby/Simon estates but both used their material for material gain.

  116. Yakov says:

    TCJ Messboard lives! Who wants to do another Shiot Crock?

  117. HTMLflowers says:

    thank you, RJ, for this accurate, mean spirited (my favourite mix) article & the stunning shit show of commentary that followed, ive been reading the comments for days, how can i ever repay you?

  118. Marc Palm says:

    I’d be curious how many supporters of the Yoe books are owners of blu-ray players and crave restored versions of their favorite films that have either failed to be saved from VHS or there are only shitty DVD transfers?

    The same thing that Yoe does happens with movies all the time. It’s frustrating to not be able to see all the beautiful details and hear the music the way it sounded in the studio. But at least you can see it. If by some chance Criterion picks up a rare film and revives it to it’s original glory, cool! Now you can buy that expensive copy and pitch the shit copy you have.

    Maybe one likes the untouched versions of these comics. There are folks who like VHS over Blu-ray. There’s a texture and a feeling of nostalgia that comes with seeing a movie like that. It might be like this for those who want the texture, the wide spread of the ink and the off registered look of those old comics. It’s nostalgia or maybe a view of how things used to be.

    I’m coming from the point of view of someone who worked at Scarecrow Video in Seattle for years and had to learn a lot about film rights and had to explain why certain titles couldn’t be found because they’re wrapped up in licensing deals, etc. So this sort of thing seems familiar. Now that I am working for Fantagraphics and see the enormous amount of work they go through to handle the material with dignity and respect I can say, I understand why someone would want to just make a fast buck and release the work without cleaning it up or having any fancy packaging. It’s the material inside that people want ultimately. If it’s too shoddy for the customer, I’m sure they won’t buy it. But if they want to read Frankenstein and cannot afford the original copies, this is their only entry point (for now).

    Maybe if more folks like RJ had the same respect for the work, plus time, skill and the willingness to volunteer to clean up the work for Yoe, he might put out better stuff. But I can only assume his situation is similar to Troma films, where they do not pay, or pay very little to many of their staff of actors. They just want to release a product and satisfy an itch. There might be a desire in Yoe to release pristine versions of this stuff, but if one doesn’t have the money and time it’s not going to happen.

    Plus, if Craig is making money in comics, he’s got to be ahead of the game in many regards.

  119. So, via Jon B. Cooke writing on Facebook re this RJ Casey disjointed look-see at a few of Craig Yoe’s output of comics library candidates I (jury’s still out on/if wisely) invested (it seems) a couple hour then scrolling down this hellish long response thread and walk away with thinking fondly back to the days of daze when we (John Barrett, Bud Plant and myself) opened Comics and Comix chain store gig up Aug 1972-Sept 1973 (four stores in four northern Calif counties) stocking Dover and Woody Gelman’s Nostalgia Press thinking it would be neat-o if so many of the (lost) treasures of Jack Cole, Steve Ditko, George Carlson, Carl Barks, Wally Wood, Dick Briefer, Shelly Mayer, etc etc etc could be brought to light (again) with cheap priced “intro” readers as the prices of the original comics (magazine) books kept a steady pace rising in perceived (money) value(s) to a growing segment of the populace (many wearing dungarees, we are led to believe)

    Some of us (very) fondly remember Marvel begin issuing Fantasy “Masterpieces” over 50 years ago now as a stand alone title which was about as f*cked up repro one could imagine as some of us then much younger lost souls got our first glimpses of Simon and Kirby Capt America in #3. But mayhaps I digress…..

    The REASON I take fingers to keyboard here is to refute those who chose to discuss John Stanley Little Lulu in such a light as to leave out Irving Tripp. That is unforgivable sacrilege – if I may be so bold.

    That, and all these dang reprints and comics scanned on line is making it harder to sell original editions :)

  120. Michelle Nolan says:

    Thank you, my well-respected friend R.J. Harvey, for saving me the trouble of writing a long comment. Old friend R.J., probably forever the best of the comic critique writers, is spot-on. Comics should be pop-cultural fun, and that’s what Craig Yoe makes of them. People who want to make old comics more than just fun can make their own cases, and indeed sometimes have made those cases here. Even so, his critics shouldn’t take it out on Craig when he makes old comics as much fun as anyone has.

  121. Michelle Nolan says:

    Oops, sorry R.C. Harvey, I’ve written far too many words today and got your middle initial wrong!

  122. Jones, one of the Jones boys says:

    Jack — not to uh derail the the thread, but Percy Gloom is an odd choice for “why did they publish this?”. Even if you don’t like it yourself, *lots* of other people did. Check out the blurbs on its product page on Fantagraphics. That doesn’t mean it actually is good but it at least explains why they published it

  123. I’m surprised nobody’s mentioned the reprint books Fantagraphics put out in the 80s and 90s when they had no money and almost no competition. Those are not exactly ever going to win any awards for best presentation.

    Snorky: Without going into further detail, I would have stood my ground if I knew what I’ve found out since.

  124. I get the feeling that different people are looking at different books when talking about Yoe books.

    Do the Weird Super Heroes books deserve hunting down what is likely non-existent original art, touch up/recoloring, a lengthily scholarly first hand research heavy articles on the characters and creators and a sky high price to match? And was there anybody out there actually planning on doing that who now can’t because Yoe “ruined” the marketplace for such a book? I highly doubt it.

    There are other books that he’s done likely would have been published via the expensive method, be it by Fantagraphics or some other publisher? Yes. But that doesn’t mean Yoe should stop doing what he’s doing. Fuck no.

    Think this through. Do you actually expect Yoe to check with every “good” publisher/competitor before he publishes a book and then not it if one of them decides they want to do it? Or only publish it in a way that would please a tiny amount of people willing to spend big bucks on that type of book (ie them)? Even though that goes against his personal and company goal in providing cheap hardcovers of fun comics for a larger audience? Anybody who thinks that is not only entitled and elitist, they’re fucking stupid too.

  125. David Colton says:

    What an absurd look-at-me-I’m-saying-something-outrageous article. Total click bait in a very small pond.

    Are Yoe books perfect? Of course not? Are they invaluable to newcomers, nostalgic to old-timers and bringing to market obscure works that would otherwise be yellowing comic book detritus? Of course they are.

    For years high-falutin’ folks have complained about reprints digitally recolored beyond anything ever seen on the newsstand. Yoe’s approach has been the opposite — trying to replicate how these post-war throwaways actually looked, poor color registration and all.

    An honest accounting would say in rational terms, gee, wish these stories looked better, maybe there should be a high-end series as well.

    Instead, a provocative, ugly headline — disservice?? — and a big debate ensues. Hopefully the real benefit will be publicity for Yoe and folks trying out a few of his offerings. He’s the comic world’ most active archaeologist and doesn’t deserve Internet nonsense like this.

  126. Greg Magarian says:

    Man, The Comics Journal.

    (1) This article makes some good, critical points based on careful thought, at least some of which I haven’t seen made elsewhere. The article therefore has value.

    (2) The author doesn’t seem to get that analysis has more value than polemics, even if you’re trying to make a strong point. THE THING I DON’T LIKE IS ALL BAD! ANYONE WHO THINKS IT ISN’T ALL BAD IS OBVIOUSLY WRONG! Yeah, I don’t believe you.

    (3) The fact that polemical snark is the house style of a publication that has taken on itself the role of chief defender of an entire medium’s artistic merit is ironic, counterproductive, and a, whaddayacall, disservice to the medium. Sometimes I think TCJ has set back any durable, appealing case for Comics As Art by about ten years.

    (4) Diagnosing the problem of Yoe books as unduly favoring “the collector” over “the artist” is pathological. First, the two interests generally don’t stand in opposition. Second, there’s this thing called “the thoughtful reader” that belies the artist-collector dichotomy in pretty important ways. Third, to the extent collectors’ interests diverge from artists’ interests, it’s hard to be surprised, let alone upset, that books marketed to collectors will serve collectors’ interests.

    (5) “I too have always felt like the only thing Piet Mondrian was missing was a whole shitload of text” is IMHO snarky, elitist, and really funny.

  127. @com1cbook says:

    Comic books are for everyone, but not every comic book is for everyone.

  128. David Colton says:

    What an absurd look-at-me-I’m-saying-something-outrageous article. Total click bait in a very small pond.

    Are Yoe books perfect? Of course not. Are they invaluable to newcomers, nostalgic to old-timers and bringing to market obscure works that would otherwise be yellowing comic book detritus? Of course they are.

    For years high-falutin’ folks have complained about reprints digitally recolored beyond anything ever seen on the newsstand. Yoe’s approach has been the opposite — trying to replicate how these post-war throwaways actually looked, poor color registration and all.

    An honest accounting would say in rational terms, gee, wish these stories looked better, maybe there should be a high-end series as well.

    Instead, a provocative, ugly headline — disservice?? — and a big debate ensues. Hopefully the real benefit will be publicity for Yoe and folks trying out a few of his offerings. He’s the comic world’ most active archaeologist and doesn’t deserve Internet nonsense like this.

  129. Anthony Thorne says:

    “Anybody who thinks that is not only entitled and elitist, they’re fucking stupid too.”

    Happily there’s probably no-one on earth who fits into the dumb categories you’ve just invented from thin air. The literate contributors in this thread simply wish Yoe would raise his standards above half-assed, and regret that he’s crapped on the market for the various books already cited above. Yoe doesn’t need to check with other publishers. He just needs to slow his circa-1994 Xerox scanner down and take a long, hard look in the mirror.

    I’ve still seen fuck all in this thread that refutes the very basic and obvious points RJ Casey has made.

  130. Eric Hoffman says:

    My two cents: RJ makes some absolutely legit criticisms concerning Yoe Books.

    Yes, they’ve put out some legitimately shoddy material. They’ve also put out some legitimately entertaining material.

    Are their reproductions often of “Xerox” quality? Yes, but usually that’s kind of the point.

    Is elaborate recoloring and digital tinkering always necessary with regards to reprints? Probably not. It depends.

    Have Yoe’s releases somehow intentionally crippled the market for like material by so-called better or more reputable publishers? I suppose that’s disputable, but this is an accusation perhaps best left to a court of law, and for it to be the purview of an opinion piece published on the internet seems a bit irresponsible.

    To me there are several different criticisms being leveled here, and which are being wrongly accorded equal weight and equal severity, and all serving as indicators of Yoe’s lack of expertise, talent, ethical standards, and strength of character.

    So while I legitimately share some of RJ’s criticisms, personally, if someone were to ask my opinion (not that anyone is, of course), I’d offer a more reasoned, measured, cautioned approach. Some punches I’d pull, others not so much.

    No one is above criticism. However, that criticism should be fair, and it should be justifiable. RJ fails on that criteria a few times. Doesn’t mean his gripes don’t have merit.

    I have to say, I’ve certainly enjoyed reading these responses! And for the record, I love Yoe’s Sutton reprint book.

  131. Allen Smith says:

    The impression I get from this article is that the author is a shill for Fantagraphics and a bit of a blowhard.

  132. Thad says:

    I’m inclined to agree with Heidi: if Yoe is indeed deliberately undercutting other creators’ planned books by beating them to market with cheaper collections of the same material, then that’s the real story here, and is indeed a disservice to comics history. I feel like that should have been the focus of this story, not a debate between barebones scans and deluxe remasters with scholarly commentary.

  133. The argument that Craig’s cartoonist monographs ruin the market for future books on the same subject is a lame one. There is no reader more likely to buy the same book again and again, (“now with 10% more real juice!”) than a comics reader.

    As for Craig “deliberately undercutting other creators’ planned books,” I have to wonder how he does this. Does GucciYoe 2.0 hack his way into other editors’ laptops to surreptitiously snatch their “long-simmering projects?” Does Swami Yoyonanda have the uncanny ability to read other editors’ minds? Does Kremlin Kraig have deep-cover humint agents embedded at Fanta and other reprint mills, busily phoning in hot tips?

    I know it strains credulity to suggest that two human beings might coincidentally stumble onto the same breathtakingly-original idea of reprinting old kids comics, (or a Milt Gross collection) but I ask you now, friends: can we imagine a world where such coincidences are possible?!?

  134. sammy says:

    I like that regardless of every disagreement in this long stupid thread, everyone agrees craig yoe essentially makes lousy books.

  135. Special K says:

    Hellman, holy shit, maybe you just like to argue, but let’s get real…

    The comics market is a SMALL one. If someone puts out garbage product on a niche topic, chances are it’s not going to be done again in this lifetime because the tiny market has been poisoned. If you don’t believe this to be true, you haven’t been in the business of selling ANYthing, and should just keep your mouth shut.

    Yoe is not the victim of coincidence, and he’s done more than simply find out about another’s project and flat-out steal it. He’s been in the publisher’s office and seen the proofs. He was recently unanimously kicked off a museum’s advisory board for stealing info/research from an exhibit for his next Yoe Book.

    Unfortunately, comicsdom is full of stupid people and crooks like Yoe will always get away with it.

  136. Let’s think this through “Special K”: I agree that the comics market is a small one. I have no doubt that there are at maximum one or two hundred people walking around on this planet who give a shit about Milt Gross, (Craig is one of them, BTW). Craig published what some feel to be a sub-par Milt Gross book. Now, you’re telling me that those one or two hundred Milt Gross fans will refuse to buy a better, more comprehensive Milt Gross book with art scanned from the originals at 25000 DPI? You expect me to believe that those one or two hundred people will say, “I care about Milt Gross, and I find the new book far superior to Craig’s. However, I’ll pass on buying the new book, and content myself with Craig’s sub-par book?” Yeah, that really sounds like an accurate snapshot of the comic reader’s mentality. ;)

    On your point about Craig being a “crook,” that’s a word you wisely chose to fling from behind the veil of anonymity. Do you know for a fact that Craig spied proofs of some book in a publisher’s office, and scurried off to rush a rip-off product to press, or is this just one more horseshit rumor that no one’s willing to step forward and corroborate?

    p.s.- Sammy, I DO NOT agree that Craig & Clizia’s books are lousy. I own a shelf full of Yoe books, and I think they’re great.

  137. Thad Komorowski says:

    Lawyer letters, at the very least, were exchanged between Spiegelman and Yoe over the disturbing similarities and too-coincidental-to-be-coincidental timing of “Toon Treasury of Classic Children’s Comics” and “Golden Treasury of Klassic Kool Kids’ Comics”.

  138. This claim that Spieg and Craig exchanged legal letters over the Kids Komics kurfuffel…is it based on any kind of verifiable info, or is it just more mean-spirited bullshit?

  139. Thad Komorowski says:

    You can ask Spieg if you don’t believe me. I think you know him?

  140. Jesse Guiher says:

    Funny how I don’t see PS artbooks mentioned by anyone, which has some of the most arguably poor printing I have ever seen. Of course like Yoe’s books the quality can vary from page to page because the scans come from various sources. I still collect them because they are affordable if bought at numerous places that offer bargain prices, however the cover prices is kind of ridiculous for most PS artbooks, and sure is not the entry point level of price that Yoe offers. I remember a time when it was all but impossible to find reprints of anything, so much so I spent embarrassing amounts of money on bare bones photocopies from mutual collectors (especially true for Gottfredson’s Mickey Mouse after “The Uncensored Mouse” got shut down and I thought there would never be an official reprint of any kind). I still don’t know what to do with all those photocopies after buying the book volumes, but even after all that money spent on crappy copies of badly preserved comics, I went out and bought the books at full retail. I really don’t see this as an either or argument: there is room in the collecting world for entry level priced editions as well as ultimate expensive lavish editions they are not mutually exclusive and often the cheaper version paves the way for buying the more expensive one, at least in my experience. If any blame is to be laid for not getting better editions it is squarely on the publisher for not being willing to take a chance and believe in their audience enough to do so. Case in point: I have numerous versions of EC comics (I personally shun the digitally colored new editions, but that is personal taste) but I still shell out the unbelievable amounts being charged for the artist editions because I see enough solid value in them. Maybe publishers should stop complaining about being torpedoed by cheaper editions and utilize it as a new model: if the cheap editions sell well, then so shall the deluxe versions given enough value for their price.

  141. What are PS art book?

  142. Jeffrey Goodman says:

    http://www.psartbooks.com/

    Echh, unless you find them on the remainder tables….

  143. Despite excellent covers and slipcovers, along with great editorial material by comics legend Roy Thomas, the PS books are to be avoided (unless you find them on the remainder table as Jeffrey suggests) due to terrible interior repro.
    For the record, you can find many of them cheap at Hamilton Booksellers… https://www.hamiltonbook.com/products/search?ps%5Btitle%5D=&ps%5Bauthor%5D=&ps%5Bpublisher%5D=PS+Artbooks&conj=and&ps%5Bdescription%5D=&ps%5Bisbn%5D=&ps%5Bsku%5D=&pf%5B%5D=&cat_id=&ps%5Bmm%5D=&ps%5Bdd%5D=&ps%5Byy%5D=&listing_sort=4&power_search=Start+Search

  144. Jeffrey Goodman says:

    Yeah, Britt….at the right price they are pretty nifty. I found the entire run of the Harvey Horrors series at Half Price Books, in trade paperback, for $7.95 each. Those were actually pretty well done facsimile editions as the covers were on glossy stock while the guts were on newsprint, giving the collections a feel like bound vintage comic books.

    The reproduction was probably more akin to the cheap printing methodology of 1950’s era comics, so all in all I was pretty happy about that run of collected editions. Most of the others, though, looked like bad color photocopying between handsome packaging. PS Art is mostly crap, but since they’ve put out so much material, every once in awhile they sort of succeed!

  145. Jesse Guiher says:

    I also forgot to mention the entire cottage industry of people stealing scans off websites and publishing nothing more than stapled color photocopies. Go on ebay and look under “Golden Age Comics” and look in the $8.00 to $15.00 price bracket there are literally dozens upon dozens every single week listed. Other sites offer the same, I’ve even found a few sites devoted to selling nothing but these cheap photocopies. I’d have nothing against them, except the large majority do not do their own scans, nor is there an attempt to even clean or restore them to any degree. Many of these scans are poorly done with murky pictures or overblown high-lighting (attempts from the original scanners who contributed these scans to grass roots sites like digitalcomicmuseum.com, to correct poor scanning methods). Worse yet, there is also a full cottage industry of people ripping off these websites and not even offering physical copies: either selling digital versions, or putting a ton of them onto a CD or DVD disc and selling that. Compared to all of these, the Yoe books ARE the deluxe version. Why was none of this discussed in the above article? The bias of the writer is shown in not mentioning all these other outlets offering similar or worse versions.

  146. Sloofus says:

    I have felt this way for years. Yoe takes great material and butchers it. Thanks for verbalizing my pointless contempt. He clearly has great taste but shitsore execution.

  147. Jesse Guiher says:

    Something I forgot to mention about PS artbooks to be aware of: you cannot mix and match the hardbacks and softcovers. In other words, the softcover books are NOT the same equivalent of the hardbacks; they leave out usually two comic book issues per volume which results in more volumes for the softcovers than the hardbacks and no continuity between the two if you want to collect a full set of a title. Typically the hardbacks have one or two volumes that become much more difficult to find than the softcovers, and for some inexplicable reason the covers to the comics reproduced in the hardbacks are on the same paper stock as the rest of the interior so do not have the glossy cover stock that the softcovers have for the interior covers and have a much more murky look to them. A smart marketing move for PS artbooks sales I suppose, but alienating and frustrating to those that want a complete set of any given title, and more than a little “shifty” in my opinion. Especially considering how pricey the hardbacks are at full retail: around $55 a book for regular hardback and higher for the deluxe slipcase versions.

  148. “for some inexplicable reason the covers to the comics reproduced in the hardbacks are on the same paper stock as the rest of the interior so do not have the glossy cover stock that the softcovers have for the interior covers and have a much more murky look to them”.

    That’s simply because the hardbacks were published before the softbacks, and they hadn’t thought about doing glossy covers for the facsimilies at that stage.

    A later hardback, Weird Tales of the Future, did feature glossy covers inside, and the same pulpy paper stock as the paperbacks, but they’ve since dropped that idea I think and gone back to the non-glossy format.

  149. Danny Hellman: maybe readers will buy multiple editions of stuff, but you can’t count on retailers sticking their necks out. Fantagraphics’ already-announced comprehensive reprints of the Briefer FRANKENSTEIN were scuttled when Yoe decided to jump in with his quickie sampler book, and even I didn’t order the subsequent Dark Horse effort. PS Artbooks did proceed with a lesser-quality effort, but it remains incomplete and likely abandoned

  150. Kim Thompson in Heaven says:

    Træk mig ikke i dette rod!

  151. Thad says:

    Poking my head back into the thread.

    First off, having noticed I’m not the only Thad in the thread, I should make it clear that I’m not the same Thad as Thad Komorowski; I apologize for any confusion. Not often I end up in a spot where somebody else shares my first name.

    Second, I’m seeing a number of accusations here and I’d be interested in sources, if any. (I can’t speak for Danny Hellman, but speaking for myself, I don’t know Art Spiegelman and I’m not going to ask him.) I can’t find much information here about Yoe sandbagging other publishers’ planned projects, but I’ve seen it referenced enough times in the thread that it sounds like it’s happened on multiple occasions and there are specific details. That’s enough to give me pause, but not enough to draw any firm conclusions. If there’s more information on the subject, I’d appreciate being pointed in the right direction; thanks.

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