Tuesday, January 31, 2012

KING KOJO with Illustrations by Marge Part One

 Four years ago, I posted about this rare book. This is part one. Part two is here.

Way back in the back of a local hardware store is a small area with maybe 1000 used books. Most of these were Reader's Digest Condensed Books, various editions of the old Time Life series of books, romance fiction, Babysitters' Club books, and so on. But on a pile of library discards there was the hardcover, well worn book below, KING KOJO.

KING KOJO was written by Ruth Plumly Thompson with illustrations by Marge (Marjorie Henderson Buell). The book is copyright 1938 by the David McKay Company.

This edition was a discard from the Rochester (NH) Public Library, and is much read.

Ruth Plumly Thompson was a well known name. She wrote the WIZARD OF OZ series of books after Frank Baum passed away. She wrote an OZ book a year from 1921 to 1939.

Above: Ms. Thompson's generous dedication to all who helped create KOJO and all who read it.

Above: the warning label sewn into the binding by the Rochester Library reads:

DO NOT turn down the leaves of this book
— Use a bookmark

DO NOT mark or mutilate — Others want to read it

DO NOT stain with food

DO NOT expose this book to rain, snow or dust — Please wrap it

Of course, as you can see in these unretouched scans, the Trustees were ignored on all counts for 70 years.

The illustrations are by Marge, who just three years earlier, in 1935, created the character of Little Lulu for the Saturday Evening Post. Not only was Marge one of the rare female cartoonists of her time, she also retained all rights to Lulu — rarer still for the time. I can only think of one other cartoonist of the 1930s (the one and only Percy Crosby) who did the same.

The book is about the benevolent but slightly inept King Kojo who rules the Kingdom of Oh-Go-Wan. If puns make you groan, the book is a groanfest. The stories feature the King's jester Pogo, as well as the usual assortment of knights, wizards, robbers in the woods, ogres and so on.

Above: the color really helps make the illustrations. I had no idea that Marge had ever done anything beyond Little Lulu!

Above: looks like a proto-Tubby chasing "The Girl Who Came Out of the Sea."

I wish the book was still in print. Once you get used to the way it's written ("Between Big Enuf Mountain and the Rolantic Ocean lies the long lovely kingdom of Oh-Go-Wan ...," etc.), it's a lot of fun. Besides, one look at these stained, well worn pages and you can see it was pretty popular.

ADDENDUM: I found a good photo of what the book looked like before all those little Rochester Library patrons got their grubby hands on it. Below is a scan from the Oak Knoll Press:

Need part two now? More Kojo here.

This blog posting originally appeared on August 18, 2008.

Monday, January 30, 2012

How John Hambrock Made His BRILLIANT MIND OF EDISON LEE Book and Why It's Not On Amazon

My friend, cartoonist John Hambrock. has been drawing his newspaper comic strip THE  BRILLIANT MIND OF EDISON LEE for King Features since 2006. It is a labor of love. Since it's something he cares about deeply, he didn't want to go the cookie cutter approach when it came time to putting together the strip's first compilation.

Above: the cover of the EDISON LEE book. Order information here.

After being turned down by well known comic strip publisher Andrews McMeel ("It’s a tough market for cartoon book collections these days, with most of the larger publishers shying away from working with smaller, less established strips."), John decided to publish this first collection himself.

There were four qualities the book would have, according to his blog entry:

  1. We wanted to use a local American Printer rather than outsource to Asia.
  2. We wanted to print the Sunday strips in full color at a legible reading size and include the drop panels most people never see - this meant sizing the book larger than the print on demand options that are available.
  3. We not only wanted the book large enough to put in the Sundays properly, we wanted a book that read all in the same direction - not flipping side to side as one went from dailies to Sundays - but also did not wind up with only one daily on a page.
  4. We wanted to use a nice heavy paper stock for the interior and a durable high gloss stock for the cover so that the book would stand up to repeated reading and last for many years.
Publishers, such as the Amazon publishing unit, had pre-set book sizes and paper. But EDISON did not fit any of those. Deciding to create the book using a local printer became the solution. John describes the whole process of layout, editing, choosing the format, paper, getting an ISBN number and the one last minute thing he forgot. It's all here and well worth reading. It was a HUGE labor, but, hey, like I said, it was a labor of love.

Guy Delisle Wins First Prize at Angoulême Festival of Comics

Congratulations to cartoonist and animator Guy Delisle, who won first prize this past weekend at the Angoulême Festival of Comics for his new book JERUSALEM: CHRONICLES FROM THE HOLY CITY, published by Drawn & Quarterly.

My colleague Bado has come scans from the upcoming non-fiction graphic novel, which will be published in the States this Spring, here.

E.C. Segar's Residence Receives Santa Monica Conservancy 2012 Preservation Awards

The Santa Monica Conservancy 2012 Preservation Awards, given to individuals, business and trusts that exhibit "exemplary contributions to the preservation of Santa Monica’s architectural and cultural heritage," went to a number of buildings, including the Spanish Colonial Revival Builders Exchange Building.

The Restoration Award was given to the Spanish Colonial Revival Builders Exchange Building at the southeast corner of 4th and Broadway, which is known for its beautiful “Churrigueresque” ornamentation. The building was restored by architect William Dale Brantley after the 1994 earthquake, and maintained and enhanced by the C. Belle Grischow Trust.

The building has a colorful past with tenants in the 1920s and 30s that included artists, architects, detectives and even cartoonist Elzie Crisler Segar, creator of Popeye, the popular cartoon character born in a typhoon off Santa Monica.

I don't know about Popeye being born in a Pacific Ocean typhoon, but, E.C. Segar (1894-1938) was born on the shores of the Mississippi. He is buried in the Santa Monica Woodlawn Cemetery, his life cut short by leukemia.

Photo of Segar's Woodlawn Cemetery (Santa Monica, CA) grave by Scott Michaels.

Video: Harry Bliss

From the 2011 National Book Festival, here is cartoonist and author Harry Bliss speaking. The video runs about 42 minutes.

Speaker Biography: Cartoonist and illustrator Harry Bliss grew up in an artistic family: His brother, sister and father are all artists. Readers of The New Yorker are very familiar with Bliss' work, as he has illustrated many of that magazine's covers. He is also a well-known illustrator of children's books, including "A Fine, Fine School" by Sharon Creech, which was a New York Times best-seller. His single-paned comic, "Bliss," is syndicated in more than 50 newspapers in the United States and Japan. Bliss' new book is "Bailey."

Saturday, January 28, 2012

What If STAR TREK Was Made by Country Folk?

The original STAR TREK episode "Tomorrow is Yesterday" is on TV tonight. I'm reminded of this mashup, made with care, cunning and a great sense of humor by Spockboy, some five years ago now.

And, if you are a hardcore fan of STAR TREK The Old Show (like me), take a look at his FOR BILL AND GEORGE video too.

Albert Dubout

Did you know that there is a pending train strike in Belgium? Fortunately, the ECC Cartoonbooks Club will not be. "[O]ur blog doesn't strike! " we are assured.

Today, the man behind the blog, Jan Oplinus, shares many train-related images by the great French cartoonist Albert Dubout (1905-1976). This is not the first time that there have been transportation problems in Europe, as these cartoons attest. If you are not so familiar with Dubout (as I am), then this is a wonderful opportunity to enjoy some great cartooning. Thank you, Jan!

Friday, January 27, 2012

1969: All of the PEANUTS Silent Penultimate Daily Panels

The silent penultimate panel was coined to describe the wordless next-to-last comic strip panel. It's that moment when the characters pause and we have that moment of anticipation, building up the final panel gag.

Silent means no dialogue, and, that means panels like this one below are in the wrong:

February 10, 1969:

Here are all of the PEANUTS (PEANUTS © 2012 PEANUTS Worldwide LLC ) silent penultimate panels from 1969, pulled out of their context, and thrust our here by themselves. 


Well, each one of them are little squares of Schulz-drawn oblique goodness. Is there an element of zen here? That's up to the beholder. 

These were scanned from THE COMPLETE PEANUTS 1969-1970, Fantagraphics, 2008.

"You have Sparky's magic in your hands right now. Go on, read it. It's here for everyone." – Mo Willems, from his introduction