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.!