Following a Thread

On the site today: Leslie Stein brings it with Day 2 of her diary; Joe McCulloch takes us into the Week in Comics; and Sean T. Collins reviews Kramers Ergot 8.

No links today, just blathering:

If I was going to pinpoint something I’ve been interested in comics lately it’s something along the lines of sensuality and regularity. This is not a category of thing I’m looking to fill, but rather a tendentious link between different books. Last month I read, for the first time, Milo Manara (The Manara Library 1: Indian Summer and Other Stories, Dark Horse, 2011). Manara, as written by Hugo Pratt in "Indian Summer" is a kind exploitation fetish cartooning monster. He is both filmic in his attention to elemental detail (grass, dunes, fire) and some sort of classicist in his staging (Piero della Francesca with a sense of humor). Everything important seems to play out across a wide expanse, figures posed just-so to convey maximum narrative per panel. But it’s Manara’s line that counts the most It’s erotic in and of itself. There’s a frisson to it that is unmistakable – it functions like the literal air in a film, enhancing the mood. Everything in a Manara drawings is fluttering ever so much. This also extends to the ugliness of violence, sexual or otherwise. The women being raped by lithe youths or decrepit old men are always in some state of ecstasy. There’s no consequence, no horror at work underneath that shimmering beauty. And that’s where Manara and Pratt perform a kind of tripling. On the one hand, they are inviting you to participate in the crime, to get off on it and implicate yourself. On another they’re satirizing your revulsion at being aroused, and on another they’re simply tweaking 1970s Italian Catholic culture, fitting in just right with Dario Argento on the “Ok, just how serious is this” scale. Manara’s almost uncannily beautiful artwork raises it up to such an immaculate level of craft that it confuses the matter even further. It’s all so perfect, so un-comic book like, in the American sense.

Speaking of which, I’ve also been spending some with Alex Raymond’s Flash Gordon and Jungle Jim, 1934 to 1936 (IDW, 2011), which arrives with an introduction by Bruce Canwell that takes a startling weird turn very early on; he rightly assumes that most readers can do with just a gloss on Raymond’s life, which has been extensively detailed elsewhere. So instead he goes in depth on the life, writings, and contributions of Don Moore, who wrote Flash Gordon (usually uncredited) from sometime in the 1930s through the 1950s. Moore is one of those pulp-era characters about whom the more your read the shakier your standing might seem. Canwell does a great job of sussing out the very murky origins of comics, showing all the various factors at work, from genre-popularity to syndicate edicts to artistic ambition. It's a great and holistic examination. Canwell also gets at one of the primary frustrations of studying this stuff: For a lot of it we simply don’t know, and probably never will, for reasons of records, relative egos, and the status of the material itself.

The book begins with the first Flash strip, with Raymond still in a more standard adventure-comics mode: crude, muscular, a little cramped. We watch Raymond learn quickly  on the job as he figures out how to make the fantasy work for him. During 1934 he goes from a cramped 12 panel grid, packing in far too much information per panel, to a 9 panel grid in which he seems to find his scale. By autumn he stops going for big scenes in each panel, and instead opens up the panel to focusing on figures alone. And in 1935 he’s using dynamic figures offset by well-composed plays of shadows and shapes; then in the summer the famously sensual Raymond lines come in (As an aside, I wonder what triggered all those lines? A chance discovery of William Blake? Virgil Finlay is more likely. Maybe Franklin Booth?) By the end of the year he’s down to as few as five panels per strip, each a full-fledged narrative illustration, and by 1936 he’s there, in his prime. The lines stand in for water, shadow, air, fire… anything elemental. There are few concretely delineated shapes – just forms described by swirling lines. Raymond can’t put a line down on the page without sexing it up. All those swooping lines, long, vivacious strokes.

No one would ever accuse him of subtlety, but more than anyone else he understood the sheer fleshiness of fantasy. Buck Rogers was more graphically inventive and schematically precise, but Raymond had sex on his side. He kinda had to make it that way, because he wasn’t much of a designer. The costumes, guns, creatures and planets are generic pulp stuff, with none of the sophistication of Calkins and later Keaton on Buck Rogers. Raymond’s Flash is the idea that it’s basically space-age Tarzan, or medieval space-age. Our hero is usually just in a swimsuit and a cape. Raymond makes no real attempt to invent – it’s all in the drawing. I like that, of course, and I can see why so many others did, too. In a lot of ways, Raymond is the crude version of Hal Foster, who was all restraint and, even when cutting loose, is classy. Not Raymond. When a damsel collapses at the villain’s feet, she falls into a vulnerable pose. She awaits ravishing. Every figure in a Raymond comic is doing something to another. No one just stands there. And in these strips lurks most of Frank Frazetta, all of Al Williamson, a chunk of Wally Wood, Bill Everett, and so many others.

This particular edition of Raymond’s Flash is not my first, but I would call it the best, short of seeing isolated black and white proofs reproduced in a few 1970s Russ Cochran tabloids. The repro here is superb, and having the topper strip, Jungle Jim, just above Flash is instructive. It foreshadows the close-quarters action Raymond would work with in Rip Kirby.

Y’know, there’s something to be said for these professionals. Manara is one of them, cranking out his stuff year in, year out (to the point of hack-dom, really). Raymond certainly did over there in Connecticut. So did Milton Caniff. I’m thinking about these guys these days maybe because they offer such solidity. They created complete bodies of work that, sure, contain pockets of mysteries, but mostly progress along fairly neat lines. Neither lived to see themselves displaced or forgotten (though Caniff’s politics embarrassingly fell out of step with his times). And that’s reassuring. There’s a finite quality there. McCay, Herriman… these guys died before they could be fully known. Not these others. It spills from the subject matter, too: Adventure – the dominent fan-supported comic book/strip genre from the late-1920s onwards. And why not? Deep in the depression it makes perfect sense to go for a ride, man. There’s been a spate of Caniff books lately, not least the complete Terry and the Pirates and, last year, Caniff: A Visual Biography (IDW, 2010). This was one of my, as the saying goes, favorite books of the year, because his visual autobiography is not so much what you might think -- paintings, diaries, secret stuff -- but rather his career, en toto. Caniff's art really is his comic strip work, and by extension the work that happens around the art: Ads, promotions, endorsements, etc. It's the stuff I always liked in Cartoonist PROfiles, the stuff the was necessary to be a good comic strip man. Caniff doesn’t stretch out or, to use a Santoro-ism, “riff”. His non-strip drawings are scenes of characters interacting, or gathering of characters, but it's not like he's telling you something new. You won’t learn something new about Caniff in the book, and that’s why I like it. Instead you have a perfect encapsulation of an immensely popular cartoonist's career work: It's the other stuff, and in sifting through 50 years of it one can see the artist and the world and industry change, all reflected in an imaginary teetering pile of paper.

Some of that other stuff is also contained in Male Call (Hermes Press, 2011), which collects the entire strip Caniff drew from 1942-1946, distributed to military papers for stations all over the world. It’s odd to see this most macho of artists – all thick line and shadow and chunks of shape, take on sex. With Raymond it’s all in the contours and the organic lines of bodies. For Caniff it’s all “tee-hee” oopsy poses (Miss Lace fixing her garter; a waitress leaning forward with a drink), facial expressions and “whoah nelly” reaction shots. It’s unsubtle, sanctioned sexy. That’s not to say it’s not great cartooning. It actually really is, reminding me a ton of Harry Lucey’s 1950s Archie work, when Betty and Veronica were acting at their sexiest. This is a looser line than Terry, less grave, maybe faster.

The other thing Caniff: A Visual Biography made me think of is that, like Raymond, no one gets hip points for liking Caniff. It’s not like Crumb was going on about the poetry of the 1940s Caniff line. No way. By the time the 1960s rolled around, younger artists were getting Caniff via EC Comics or, for that matter, the Lee Elias and Mort Meskin of DC SF titles. I also found the book curiously sad in a sense, because Caniff and his creation are so forgotten by the culture (non-comics) now. It's not like other great cartoonists whose work at least lives on through their characters (Popeye, Prince Valiant, Annie, et al), even if the protagonist obscures the artistry. Nope, Caniff's story, and his character's, is over. That's a strange thing. It's sealed in a way -- you can still see Snoopy, even if it signifies something else now. But Caniff and his tribe are frozen.

And for my last act, I have to pay homage to Richard Sala’s incredible and overlooked book, The Hidden (Fantagraphics, 2011). Sure we reviewed it here on the site, but I only just read it, and it’s really quite incredible. Sala’s kind of a pro himself, turning out at least a book a year (much like another visionary, Gilbert Hernandez), and this twist on Frankenstein reads, not unlike that gothic romance, as an allegory for artistic ambition gone wrong, or, maybe because I’m currently reading Simon Reynolds’ Retromania, like a tale of collector psychosis. Victor collects and then creates a monster out of various parts, that monster does the same, and, in the end, after killing his creation, Victor can't help himself, and saves just one last specimen -- collecting just one more thing to work on. Just one more project... It read to me like a story about making something that does harm, and perpetuates that harm, but taking such pleasure in the process of the making that it borders on self (or in this case, species) destruction. Yep, it's a gothic romance all right, and all the better for it. Sala's tale could not be any further from the mentality of the artists above, but somehow, Sala's lush visuals and perfect sense of pacing seems to dovetail with that work. It is a fully formed professional statement, even as it splits off into another comics world all together. It's there, I guess, that my thread really unravels.


30 Responses to Following a Thread

  1. Brynocki C says:

    yeah! Manara! Thanks for the reminder to pick up that Flash Gordon book. Can’t wait! Whats the best Al Williamson book out there?

  2. there’s no substitute for draftsmanship & making it look good … Caniff & Raymond rarely slacked off but Manara’s inking in the last few years has suffered … he’s forgetting how to make the line struggle sometimes … his best work was that b&W Chinese Monkey epic from the 70s, amazing inking & draftsmanship

  3. patrick ford says:

    Dan, If you like B&W proofs of Raymond’s Flash Gordon look for:
    Flash Gordon A Classic from the Golden Age of Comics, Nostalgia Press, 1967.
    It’s huge (11×15 landscape format without the JJ topper). The reproduction is superb and it’s no wonder.
    “Thanks are due to Mrs. Alex Raymond for her generous loan from her private collection of Flash Gordon proofs.”
    Heavy matte paper, lies open flat as a pancake sewn binding. Includes strips 1/6/38-6/29/41.
    An essential book for fans of Raymond’s line. Be careful to avoid the four Nostalgia Press colour volumes.

  4. patrick ford says:

    Seeing Dan bring together Manara, sensuality, “Italian Catholic culture,” and Raymond brought to mind Umberto Eco’s “The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana.”
    The story of an aging bookman’s big score, the one that got away, dusty memories, childhood sexual awakenings, mid-life crisis, and resolution. A work of fiction where the bookman’s musings take on the form of essays and where the key to his mature awakening is tied up in Alex Raymond’s iconized images of men and women.

  5. Heidi M. says:

    I’ve been on a mini Sala trend myself in recent months. He seems to exemplify the talented comics auteur who has a solid body of work and even media exposure (Liquid TV) without being in any way “established,” if you take my meaning.

  6. Jeet Heer says:

    A great posting. It’s true that people don’t talk as much about the Raymond/Foster/Caniff trio. That’s changing a bit for Foster with the new Prince Valiant books and looks to be changing for Raymond and Caniff, if this post is any indication. One factor at work is that there aren’t really very many cartoonists doing interesting contemporary work that owes a lot directly to Raymond/Foster/Caniff. By contrast King/Gray/ Gould/Segar/Herriman have influenced actual work being done in the last decade in profound ways. More subtly, to the extent that the Raymond/Foster/Caniff line is still a living and evolving tradition, the work of these cartoonists is most influential in a second-hand way, by the way in which they’ve been absorbed by comic book artists in the 1940s and 1950s. Raymond was subsumed by Kirby, Foster by Barks, and Caniff by Toth and Eisner. To the extent that cartoonists like Jaime Hernandez belong to this tradition, its usually through the mediation of Kirby, Barks, Toth, Eisner and others. It’ll be interesting to see if there is ever a direct return to Raymond/Foster/Caniff with artists being influenced by them first-hand rather than mediated through the comic book traditions. Colleen Coover did cite Caniff as an influence in a recent Comics Reporter interview, so it might happen.

  7. R. Fiore says:

    I’ve always thought the sexual act at the center of Manara’s comics was not intercourse but voyeurism.

  8. Eddie campbell says:

    “Flash Gordon A Classic from the Golden Age of Comics, Nostalgia Press, 1967.
    It’s huge (11×15 landscape format without the JJ topper). The reproduction is superb and it’s no wonder… Includes strips 1/6/38-6/29/41.”

    I’ll second Patrick Ford on that. But don’t forget there were two volumes. The second, published in 1971 , filled in the story from 1936-38. Same beautiful reproduction and an excellent introductory essay by Maurice Horn. Black and white, but Raymond’s line never looked as good as it did in those two volumes.

    shot of the cover here:

  9. patrick ford says:

    Yes, arguably “better” material if one prefers the earlier strips since the two B&W book were inversed chronologically.
    The Water World book isn’t quite as big as the 1967 Flash Gordon. It’s “only” 9.5 x 12.5.
    And again, if anyone goes to order either of these be careful not to order the full colour Nostalgia Press Flash Gordon, you’ll be sorry.

  10. Dan Nadel says:

    Oh, some good comments here, thanks.
    @Jeet: I agree, there’s not a lot of unmediated influence from that lot. There’s far more from King, Herriman, Gray, Gould. I think there’s an artist named Ryan Sook at DC who did some Foster-ish work for that Wednesday Comics project. Would be interesting to see what artists could take from Raymond and Foster in particular. There was a little flare-up of it in the 70s with “The Studio”, et al, and of course that work has been more readily available, for longer, than the more prevalent classics. Hm. Maybe ubiquity and, like you said, absorption via comic books, kinda neutered it for a spell.
    @Pat Ford and Eddie Campbell: I second those emotions — I have those wonderful B&W Nostalgia Press volumes. I love those and I love much of what Woody Gelman did with his press. I’m most fond of the oversized (12 x 18) Russ Cochran publication “King Portfolio One, 1937-1937” (1976), which has just killer selections of Raymond’s work, as well as other King Features strips like two Red Barry Sundays. All perfectly repro’d in black and white. Gotta love Red Barry. I’m sure someone out there is planning for the inevitable third Red Barry comeback. I’m curious and cautiously optimistic about Cochran’s upcoming Sunday comics reprint publication. Man, I’m just swamped by the past. That’s a good strip.

  11. Dan Nadel says:

    Oh and @RFiore: I of course agree about the voyeurism being primary in Manara. I’m not sure if it’s the center, but it’s certainly essential. He implicates us at every turn.

  12. Mike Rhode says:

    I’ve nothing deep to say, but I really enjoyed this, Dan. It would have done better as a featured article rather than the blog where one expects to find a bunch of links.

  13. James says:

    I’m not sure what you mean when you say that Caniff is “over”. The work has a life of its own and is now available in a complete form that it wasn’t before; you can get the big thick IDW hardcovers and read the stories and see his beautiful color Sundays. I didn’t “get” Caniff myself until very recently, but now I wonder how so many of the people over the years who thought they got it, really didn’t. I mean, a lot of people tried to emulate the surface of the artwork…Toth for instance took the art as far as he could, but he didn’t understand the scale— almost no one, except maybe Kirby, grasped that it is the expansive spread of the narrative as expressed through interlocking art and text that makes Caniff great (Stan Lee likes to take credit for that expansiveness, but it was totally Jack that did it). Of course there’s some shitty things about Caniff’s work, I can hardly bear to look at Connie, the military gobbledygook slows a lot of the later Terrys considerably and I don’t feel Steve Canyon nearly so much, but Terry beats the hell out of most comics for sheer seat of the pants adventure, and even with the sexism that is in Terry, Caniff’s female characters are alive in a way that I hardly see anywhere outside of Jaime Hernandez. Not “over” or “sealed” at all.

  14. Frank Santoro says:

    I’m just throwing this out there as someone who considers himself a Caniffer – I love it all – but at that Masters show a couple years ago? – Caniff didn’t look so good. I know, I know, next to all the other “Masters” everyone is gonna take a hit – but Gould looked more modern than ever. Caniff looked old timey and mannerist. To me.

  15. James says:

    Well Frank, to be fair, this stuff is narrative, it wasn’t and isn’t meant to be seen in bits and pieces in a gallery setting. I don’t consider shows like the Masters exhibitions, both of which I saw, to be any barometer of the work. In fact, I am not big on showing originals meant for reproduction in galleries, especially incomplete stories, or unless they are narrative art specifically done for gallery exhibition. The printed comics are the complete work. Comics aren’t paintings or one-off drawings, they are meant to be read, in Caniff and other serial strip cartoonists’ cases originally in installments, one a day over years, at that. Unless they were clipped and saved over those years and read together, I doubt that the people who followed them had much grip on how fast the narrative moves when you read them in book form. But to return to Dan’s point, I think that such comics as the IDW Terry collections and the Prince Valiant collections by Fantagraphics are now available in a form of best advantage, can now be absorbed by the current generation and we will see their influence more so in the future.

  16. Dan Nadel says:

    James, I was perhaps a little vague. What I meant was that Caniff and Raymond, like Foster, are pretty well explored and now very well published, and have been for decades. We’re seeing the finest editions now, but their milieu is long gone, and unlike the others I mentioned, neither their work nor their characters are exerting much pull on the culture. Of course that may change — it would be great if they entered into the conversation again — but from my vantage point theirs is a culture gone by. Whereas the cultures of Herriman and others remain alive and, in a way, still practiced. But this is just officially “riffing” and there’s no real right or wrong. As to the originals, I tend to agree with Frank. The gallery context is sorta immaterial — what he means, if I remember our conversations correctly (we went to that show together — awwwww) is that Caniff’s drawings were just not as alive and contemporary looking as Gould’s. It was a funny thing to see. It doesn’t reflect on the artist, really, because as you say, the finished product is the printed comic. But it was something to note, just in terms of drawing qua drawing.

  17. james says:

    I see what you’re saying—yes, a lot of current comics reflect the cartoony flatness of Gould, and that’s fine. I admit I don’t really care for Gould, but then I also am not smitten with Raymond, Manara or Crumb for that matter. What I noticed when I finally, recently read both Terry and Valiant is how well they READ as complete narratives, in both text and art, and how little the real value of their work was implemented by so many throughout comics history, who obviously loved but didn’t understand the essential humanity of their work; those gave rise to the odious “adventure based” styles of the mainstream we have now: pretty drawings with little depth of field, scant understanding of graphic storytelling and next to no meaningful content.

  18. patrick ford says:

    What you have is mainstream comics is where adventure resides today. It isn’t classic adventure though, it isn’t rooted in Foster, and Raymond, and Caniff.
    When the fist wave of cartoonists broke into comic books they all wanted to be Alex Raymond, Caniff, or Foster. The early comic book cartoonists wanted to be cartoonists.
    Today I think many mainstream creators are foremost fans of the characters.
    Now there is a new adventure comic book in the works from Rich Tomasso and it looks like he got Roy Crane to draw it for him.

  19. patrick ford says:

    Rich Tomasso’s Sam Hill:

  20. “I’m sure someone out there is planning for the inevitable third Red Barry comeback.”

    Yes, Dean Mullaney is working on a complete reprint:

  21. Re: Jeet’s comment that “people don’t talk as much about the Raymond/Foster/Caniff trio,” I guess it’s all a matter of which people we’re listening to. In my 50+ years of comics reading, I can’t think of a time in which writers, artists, and fans did NOT talk about Caniff, Raymond, and to a lesser extent, Foster.

    Frank King, on the other hand, has pretty much been off the radar for many years…until recently, thanks to the W&S series Jeet co-edits. I can’t even count how many of my strip-fan contemporaries have “discovered” King for the first time. Again, thanks to W&S, King’s reputation and influence is only going to increase, and isn’t that one of the reasons we’re all involved in preserving this stuff in the first place? For example, I don’t see anyone talking about Otto Soglow, who certainly has been an influence on a small yet important group of modern cartoonists, and hope that will change with the release of our upcoming book. The work has to be seen in order to have influence on new generations. This is where Caniff has had an advantage — to one extent or another, Terry has been in print for nearly forty years.

    On the other hand, as Dan notes, it’s not hip to like Caniff, perhaps BECAUSE he has been so accessible. I would argue that his influence is so pervasive that’s it can be difficult to see. And not just as an artist. Pete Hamill has it right when he says Caniff was one of the great American writers of the century. Not comics writers. Writers. In mainstream comics, it could be successfully claimed that without Caniff there would be no Joe Simon and no Stan Lee, and all they wrought.

    It also shouldn’t be much of a surprise that in the course of researching Caniff’s career and legacy, I’ve discovered that his reputation lives on among the military. No duh! James feels that the “military gobbledygook slows a lot of the later Terrys considerably.” I see it differently — Caniff was writing the right story for the right time. To me, reading those stories is similar to listening to WWII vets who finally started opening up in the 1970s.

    Dan: Your instincts are good. Red Barry is indeed in the works. I’m tracking down the remaining dailies so we can collect the complete D&S in two volumes.

  22. tucker stone says:

    Seconded Dean’s comment. I’ve heard more about Caniff/Foster/Raymond over the last two years working comics retail than I have over the last decade or so reading comics crit and websites. It may be a dead issue in certain circles, but those guys have an active, vivid audience in others.

  23. R. Fiore says:

    Flash Gordon, Prince Valiant and Terry and the Pirates are part of a family of perennially reprinted comics, which are going to be reprinted every time there’s a revival of classic comics reprinting. Others include the Barks Duck comics, EC horror, The Spirit, Little Nemo, and Popeye. Dick Tracy and the Foster/Hogarth Tarzan I believe have been kept out of the category only because their copyright owners have been difficult to deal with. Sometimes when a comic strip is reprinted badly you figure the only chance has been blown, but with these another reprint is always in the future.

  24. patrick ford says:

    The way I took the comments by Dan and Jeet was they were saying Raymond, Foster, and Caniff, weren’t being mentioned by modern mainstream and alternative cartoonists as influences.
    That’s a big contrast to years ago when they were constantly name-checked in interviews by first generation comic book creators.
    Two of the reasons might be alternative comics aren’t adventure oriented. Adventure newspaper strips have almost vanished, and the modern mainstream is populated by creators who often say things like, “It’s an honor to add to Spider-Man’s legacy.”

    As to looking at comics art as isolated pages, panels, images, and line, as opposed to reading comics as a narrative I think the narrative is primary. It’s people who are familiar with the narrative who are more likely to supplement that by looking at the artwork as original art.
    There is a place for both, and Dan mentioning the Russ Cochran portfolios from the 70’s makes me think I’d rather see Russ take the huge stat film archive he must have from his auctions over the years and once again start publishing more things like his old “King Features” and E.C. portfolios. I like the idea of Russ reprinting complete old comics sections, but that doesn’t really sound like the emphasis is going to be on narrative, so why not present the original art in a large format?

  25. James says:

    Okay, it does make for slower going but I wil conceed that Caniff’s later, more military focus was necessary and logical in terms of how the strip evolved in relation to its audience…certainly, while the war was on, it provided common reference points between the troops and their families on the home front. But, it is a mistake to seperate the art from the story in a medium where both carry narrative information. I’m not going to dignify the mythologizing of S. Lee.

  26. Kim Thompson says:

    Realistically-drawn adventure comics are generally considered second-class citizens for reasons that are both sound and unsound, I think. They by their nature traffic in melodrama and genre fiction, which is considered more inherently juvenile than humor or satire. (Also: This kind of work had more of a tendency to be constrained by censorship. And: The day-by-day comic-strip format really wasn’t kind to them.) And somehow the “realism” tends to make them date badly. (The graphic worlds of Little Orphan Annie or Dick Tracy, are just as “dated” in a sense, but the stylization somehow makes them seem fresher.) In this context I can sympathize with a Daniel Clowes fan (or Krazy Kat fan) being dismissive of Steve Canyon or Flash Gordon, and yeah, my own Top Ten syndicated cartoonists in terms of personal preference wouldn’t include any of them. (Alex Raymond bores me to tears.) Then again, I’ve read plenty of Caniff with great pleasure (and Pratt, and Giraud, and Breccia, and Micheluzzi, and Hermann). Then again, that list tapers off pretty quickly, while my list of “great pleasure” reading on the humor/caricatural side goes on for pages.

  27. I have a disagree with Kim, my friend of nearly forty years, that realistically-drawn adventure comics are generally considered second-class citizens. As with Jeet’s comments, it all depends on who’s doin’ the considerin’.

  28. COOP says:

    I agree with you about Gould in the Masters show – those pages with the fire sequence were just brutal and beautiful – but seeing those Caniff pages in person & digging on those inky swirls of black was one of the highlights for me. (I see a lot of Caniff in Beto’s inking.) Hard to even be too critical about that show – it’s the only time I felt a moment of honest-to-god Stendahl Syndrome in a museum – it was those Peanuts pages that did it to me.

  29. R. Fiore says:

    What the adventure strips lose in comics snob appeal they more than make up for in appeal to the mainstream comics readership. Terry is something that suffers a bit in reprint form because it’s so dense, a quality that must have done it good when doled out a strip a day.

    My recollection of the Masters of American Comics show was that the Caniff section was rather small, with only a paucity of examples from the 1930s, which would be where the main interest would be. Gould doesn’t have the same problem because he was doing some of his most visually stunning work later in his career. The one thing that could really improve the Dick Tracy collections (other than color Sundays) would be to remove those ugly copyright notices. It would be simplicity itself, since they’re usually in a black area, which is a major reason they detract from the look of the strips.

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