Edited and Designed by Craig Yoe
Introduction by Jeff Smith
Yoe Books and IDW Publishing
In this glorious, golden age of comic book and comic strip reprints, Craig Yoe remains my favorite collections editor. He has such a keen eye for the overlooked gem and the under appreciated artist - and in all of his work, Craig's pure love for kids' comics - true kids' comics - is tangible. Let's look at the record:In past collections, Craig has collected the works of Bud Sagendorf, Otto Messmer, Milt Gross, and Dan DeCarlo; and in multi-artist collections, he has reprinted stories from such seldom seen masters as George Carlson, Jack Bradbury, Ken Hultgren, Mel Casson, Jim Tyer, and Louis Ferstadt (The Golden Collection of Klassic Krazy Cool Kids Komics); as well as Frank Johnson, Dan Gormley and Al Fago (The Great Treasury of Christmas Comic Book Stories). For my tastes, the two perfect Yoe collections have been Popeye: The Great Comic Book Tales by Bud Sagendorf and Felix The Cat: The Great Comic Book Tails. I love them because it is highly unlikely the stories contained within either book would have ever found their way into a prestige hardback without the devotional efforts of Yoe. This is particularly true of Sagendorf's work on Popeye, which adult critics have always found lacking when inevitably compared to creator Segar's brutal, fascinating sailor. As for Messmer's Felix stories, more than one critic has found them too simple for adult enjoyment. With all due respect, I think such criticism misses the mark. These comics were done for children, not adults. Trying to bend them into grown-up fare crushes their magic. When Felix slides down a giant ice cream mountain on a magic carpet only to find himself fighting an army of chocolate soldiers, as he does in "Felix in Candy Land" (Felix the Cat #15, 1950, Dell Comics) children loved it because it had nothing to do with adult logic or complexity. Children also responded instinctively, as I do, to the magnificent artwork of masters like Sagendorf and Messmer (the bold, smooth, rubbery line of Otto Messmer particularly thrills me). For the artwork alone, I am grateful that Yoe has reproduced the work of both Sagendorf and Messmer in such handsome collections.Another one of my favorite Yoe Books is Dan DeCarlo's Jetta. The artist is best remembered for his great work in the Archie comic book titles but, as I've mentioned, Yoe specializes in the under appreciated gems. Jetta, the space-age "Teen-age Sweetheart of The 21st Century," was a DeCarlo creation for Standard Comics in the early 1950s, and the young beauty got the Yoe treatment in a beautifully done hardcover. The results are as good as anything the artist ever drew for Archie.Speaking of enjoying an artist's lesser known work brings me gracefully to the book and artist under discussion today!Carl Barks and John Stanley are the twin colossi who stride across the landscape of kids' comics; their stories complex enough (and their artwork wonderful enough) to appeal to both children and adults. Stanley in particular, with his genius scripting, has recently become the critics' darling (and deservedly so). Barks was the "good duck artist," well loved and remembered for his engaging Donald Duck and Uncle Scrooge stories for Western Publishing. Yet Barks drew and scripted many comic book stories with characters other than the Disney ducks - and this is where Mr. Yoe's most recent work comics in.The Carl Barks' Big Book of Barney Bear collects the great Barney Bear and Benny Burro stories Barks did for Western (Dell) comics in the early 1950s, and like all of Yoe's books, it is beautifully designed and published. For the comic lover, Craig hits all the marks: The paper stock is matte and perfectly non-shiny, the colors look bright and clean, and the binding can be opened fully and set flat without fear of breaking the spine. Included as well is a brief but very insightful introduction from Jeff Smith (Bone) and two great articles from Yoe (in all of Yoe's writing, his enthusiasm for comics shines). As for the stories included? Well, I can show you better than I can tell you. The story below comes straight out of the book - and it is pure, uncut Barks.I highly recommend this book! You will love it as will any children you know (think Christmas)!For a complete list of Yoe Books including this keeper of Barney Bear stories, please click HERE!