The SPIDER-MAN Art Unseen in More Than 30 Years

PLUS: A look at what’s to come from IDW and the Library of American Comics…

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Over the summer, we began a series of stories that went behind the scenes with IDW’s archival series, highlighting the publisher’s popular Artist’s Editions (click here) and Craig Yoe’s Yoe Books (click here). Now, it’s Dean Mullaney’s turn, with a look at his Library of American Comics imprint.

The LOAC focuses largely on reprinting hard-to-find newspaper strips, like Steve Canyon and Terry and the Pirates. It may be blasphemous to some, but I’ve always preferred the comic book to the comic strip. There’s so much more storytelling potential, and a writer has much greater leeway in terms of pacing.

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But there’s still something to be said for daily fixes of an adventure. For me, I especially like seeing characters who are usually seen in comics, if for no reason other than the strips come off as somewhat exotic: They’re like forgotten little gems buried in the crust of a hero’s considerable history.

Thought you read every Batman story of the Silver Age? Think again, if you’ve never read the Batman strips of the time, which seemed equally influenced by the Adam West show and what DC was putting out on the stands (with a little Filmation thrown in for good measure).

Volume 1, out now.

Volume 1, out now.

Same goes for Spider-Man, whose Bronze Age newspaper stories are also being collected by Mullaney. Volume 2 of Spider-Man: The Ultimate Newspaper Collection is coming soon, and Volume 3 is already being prepped — and here’s a glimpse at some of the never-before-reprinted art by Floro Dery, from 1984:

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I asked Dean more about the LOAC line — and what’s to come:

Dan Greenfield: For those not in the know, give us the history of the Library of American Comics.

Dean Mullaney: I created the Library of American Comics in 2007 in order to fulfill a 30-year wish to publish the complete Terry and the Pirates by Milton Caniff. I had actually discussed the plans with Milton back in the ’80s, but it took 30 years and a commitment from Ted Adams at IDW to finally make it happen. When we saw that there were many newspaper strip fans who wanted more series preserved in archival editions, we jumped in head first. We soon became the largest imprint dedicated to reprinting classic newspaper strips. In our first eight years, we’ve been nominated for 23 Eisners and won seven.

Dan: How many books have you produced to date?

Dean: At current count, more than 130. With an average 300 pages per book, that’s about 40,000 pages!

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Dan: What are some of the major titles we can expect over the next 12 months or so?

One I’m particularly happy about is the complete Silly Symphonies Sunday strips, which have never before been reprinted in English. The artwork is coming directly from the Disney vaults and as color guides we’re using bound volumes that actually belonged to Walt Disney himself. We’re also expanding the Donald Duck reprints to include the color Sundays.

The Spider-Man strip continues to move into previously unreprinted territory. In addition, both Dick Tracy and Steve Canyon advance into the 1960s (when Tracy meets Moon Maid!), Little Orphan Annie leaps into its third decade, Rip Kirby continues with John Prentice’s slick art, and we’re presenting more adventure strips such as Red Barry by Will Gould.

As a follow-up to “King of the Comics: 100 Years of King Features,” LOAC Essentials will spotlight classic King Features strips such as the 1934 Krazy Kat and the early Tim Tyler’s Luck that featured Alex Raymond, pre-Flash Gordon bust-out.

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Dan: Give us a taste of what some of your personal favorites are from what you’ve already published.

Dean: Terry and the Pirates, of course (even after all these years, I’ve-read the entire run about every two years), the Alex Toth books, Scorchy Smith by Noel Sickles, Skippy by Percy Crosby, The Bungle Family by Harry Tuthill, and…seriously, I would say that three-quarters of what we’ve already published are absolute personal favorites.

How fortunate we are to live in an era in which so many classic comics are right at our fingertips. When I was growing up in the ’60s and ’70s, the only way we could read most strips was to collect the tearsheets. It took me 20 years to assemble a complete set of Terry and the Pirates. Now you can buy our six-volume edition all at once! It’s fantastic!

Author: Dan Greenfield

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