I’m on a rampage. I really can’t stop myself. In the past few weeks, I’ve bought or ordered online the following reprints of old comics:
- The Complete Zorro
- Terry and the Pirates, vol 1
- Steve Canyon, vol 1
- Flash Gordon, vol 1
- Dick Tracy, vols 1 &2
- Dan Dare, vols 1 & 2
In actual fact, the Zorro collection is the only one on my shelf at the moment. The others were all online purchases that are at different stages in the tangled process of ecommerce. But goddamn, am I looking forward to reading all these. The Caniff collections (Terry and Canyon), in particular, have piqued my interest. I’ve got this ancient Penguin Book of Comics that contains a bunch of Caniff strips, and they seem pretty damn good.
I had a book about Dick Tracy when I was a kid: it had a bunch of strips, but mostly it was text, with some long-winded guy writing about Tracy and his creator and blah blah blah. I read through that book a hundred times, skipping the text and reading only the comics. I’m looking forward to those collections.
Dan Dare is a purchase I’m making on the strengths of two recommendations: one from Garth Ennis and one from Warren Ellis. Ellis loves Dan Dare, and wrote that it was his primary motivation for Ministry of Space. Ennis, likewise, ate the stuff up, and is working on a re-launch. So I’m picking up the first story-arc, contained in the first two volumes.
The Zorro book collects a bunch of stories Alex Toth did for Disney back in the 1950s and 60s. His was a name I’d always heard, often in connection with the 22 Panels That Always Work or the Super Friends, but I’d never really experienced his art. As when I read Two-Fisted Tales, I now understand why Toth garners so much praise. Young artists should be required to study his linework, and the expression of his characters. His stories are great fun, full of the adventure and swordplay you expect from Zorro tales.
I think it was Two-Fisted Tales that lit the fuse on this reprint binge. That was such a great book, with such rewarding stories, that it pushed me to search out other gems from bygone eras. I think there’s a tendency amongst the mainstream comic reading audience today to take a look at the crude nature of super hero comics in the 30’s and 40’s and dismiss older comics as more or less unworthy. I’ll be reviewing each of these as they come in, in the hopes that even a sliver of extra exposure will help audiences rediscover the great comics of the past.