Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The Full Coo Coo! Post III

Welcome to the third and final post in which we will accomplish our stated mission of posting every story from Coo Coo Comics No. 28, August 1946. This first story, featuring the long-forgotten character of Pop Korn, is by Disney master Al Taliaferro. Mr. Taliaferro is best remembered for his work illustrating the Donald Duck strip from 1938 until his death in 1969.

This is the part of comic book collecting I love: finding the work of artists totally new to me. These next two stories feature the artwork of Paul Sommer and Curt Perkins, respectively. I had never heard of either artist before delving into this comic and have been able to find out precious little. But, as you can see, their work is solid and attractive. This makes me wonder how many hundreds of good artists worked in this period that are completely unknown to me.

So, in conclusion: The purpose of this three-part post was to, by posting every story from a single issue of Coo Coo Comics during the Golden age, gain insight into the hardships endured by an editor gathering material for a single volume anthology (like, say for example, The Golden Collection of Klassic Krazy Kool Kids Komics edited by Craig Yoe).

Well, all I can say is, my hat is off to Mr. Yoe, big time! I can hardly decide which stories I like the best from this single, 7-story comic!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Jack Bradbury Day! Coo Coo Comics - Post II

Last post began the project of posting every story from Coo Coo Comics No. 28, August 1946; so that we might gain insight into the challenges faced by an editor of an anthology of kids’ comics (like, say for example, The Golden Collection of Klassic Krazy Kool Kids Komics edited by Craig Yoe).

How would you choose “the best”? Well, with this standard of quality coming from a single, random issue I think my head would blow up trying. Let’s enjoy two tales from the master of kids' comics, Jack Bradbury.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

COO COO COMICS No. 28, August 1946

After reviewing Craig Yoe’s wonderful book of kids’ comics (see last post), it occurred to me what a monumental job Craig faced selecting only the best stories for a single volume. I mean, in the golden age of comics alone the talent was overwhelming!

How rich was the cartooning field during the golden age (late 30s to late 40s)? Friends, I can show you better than I can tell you. I thought of a fun project: I grabbed (I swear) a random issue of Coo Coo Comics from my collection – issue no. 28, August 1946. I’ll post every story from the issue over the next several days, excluding none! By project's end, we will have walked a yard or two in Craig’s editorial shoes. Let’s get started!

First up is an Al Hubbard Supermouse story. This is the first story in the comic. Already we’re elbow deep in "classic!"

Don R. Christensen (working as Don Arr) gives us our next treat with a “Zippie” story. Christensen was an animator for both Disney and Warner (as part of Bob Clampett’s unit) before turning to cartooning. I’m already beginning to understand why a book like The Golden Collection of Klassic Krazy Kool Kids Komics takes years to edit!

The random harvest of this issue of Coo Coo Comics continues with two (that’s right, two) stories from Jack Bradbury!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Craig Yoe says, "Hey Kids, Komics!"

BOOK REVIEW: The Golden Collection of Klassic Krazy Kool Kids Komics by Craig Yoe; published by Yoe Books! and IDW Publishing, 2010 (304 pages). Available @ Super I.T.C.H.

I received Craig Yoe’s The Golden Collection of Klassic Krazy Kool Kids Komics (henceforth known as KKKKK) in the mail a couple of days ago. I've been pouring over it since and find it the most beautifully done comics retrospective book I have seen since forever. Paper stock choice, graphic design and layout, reproduction quality; and selection of artists - all rate a first class wow. With comic book anthologies so much can go wrong - and none of it goes wrong here. Specifics? Oh, all right.

First, this little doozy’s bound for the ages (both timeless and well made). All us comic book lovers have had it happen: you buy a nice anthology of your favorite artist, title, or genre; open it up a couple times and wham – that unmistakable sound of a split binding knifes into your heart. Soon, you know, pages will begin dropping out. No worries here. Pages open nicely (lays flat) and are snug and tight - designed for years of reading.

Let's take a little peek at the contents. Here's a story by George Carlson. All scans on this post come right out of the book:

Quality of reproduction (sooo important) is very high throughout. Paper choice is crucial and is a pretty tricky business where funny books are concerned. Publishers really seem to prefer the slick, hard paper – imagining (I imagine) the shiny paper gives the work the slick sheen of real, permanent art and high quality (and can thus summon a price commensurate with same). Trouble is, if the paper’s too slick and hard, colors (oh, those all important four-color colors!) can become over saturated - even blobby and wet looking - thus losing the look and feel of comics. Not here. Nope. Mr. Yoe has chosen a heavy paper, very white, which has a perfect, very slight texture so that all reproduced work has a crisp, matte finish. In other words, everything looks exactly like the great comics we purchased back before illusions of grandeur thickened the fun.

Now, to the heart of it - the selection of comics and artists. Two things can (and have) happened with comic book anthologies: The artist selection is so esoteric and “original” that you end up wondering (and not caring) who the artists are; or, on the other hand, you’ve seen the work selected about one-bazillion times in various formats. In a nutshell, I found Craig’s selection to be the perfect blend of extremes. All the giants (Barks, Kelly, Walker, Hubbard, etc.), master classers (Messmer, Bradbury, Hultgren, Stanley, Gordon, etc.), brilliant inspirations (Carlson, Gross, Cole, Kurtzman, etc.); and other assorted big names are well represented here by work not often seen. Also presented are kid comic stories from artists best known for their big boy work – guys like Jack Kirby, Wally Wood, and Frank Frazetta (the story included here from the late Frazetta is a particular joy and doesn’t contain a single hint of stooping-to-conquer).

And there are, gratefully, some artists that are new to me. Of them, I am really going to have to hunt down some of the work of Louis Ferstadt. The included stories of “Phil Flop, Detective” bare the curse of dizzying genius. Another discovery (for me) was Mel Casson, whose “Stanley the Space Man” exudes funny charm. Have a look for yourself:

And, what the heck, let's toss in a Phil Flop one-pager by Louis Ferstadt for good measure!

OK, I’ve said my piece. Now it’s time for some good ol’ fashioned comic book yapping. Favorite parts? Man, I’m glad you asked. My favorite comic book artists ever are Jack Bradbury, Milt Stein, and Howie Post so their inclusion here is very gratifying (and story choices for each is stuff I haven't seen before - something un-Harvey from Post). I also loved the Jim Tyer story, “The Great Voice.” Tyer’s cartooning will be instantly recognizable to anyone familiar with his energetic animation for Terrytoons! My biggest thrill, however, was the included pages of Dr. Seuss’ work on the Hejji comic strip. “Did you know Dr. Seuss drew this comic strip for the newspapers?!?” asks Yoe in a caption introducing the first page (of 12); knowing full well he is unveiling a glittering gem. The good doctor - Theodor Seuss Geisel - was the first cartoonist I loved (still love) and to find some new cartoons from him is a real treat.

Mr. Yoe certainly has been ripping it up! Earlier this very same year we have seen from Yoe Books! The Complete Milt Gross Comic Books and Life Story, AND Dan DeCarlo’s Jetta (a personal favorite after the title under discussion). Wow, does Yoe love comics - loves them so much he always does them up right. Every comic book lover owes Craig Yoe, Yoe Books!, and IDW Publishing a pat on the back!

Even better than a pat on the back would be the purchase of some of Craig's books! I certainly have! To purchase KKKKK and other great titles from Yoe Books!, please visit Super I.T.C.H.!
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