Back in the day when I first started doing comics the first question I'd get asked in an interview was always what was my favorite comic strip-- or the reporter would tell me how much they liked THE FAR SIDE or CALVIN AND HOBBES-- despite the fact that there is a huge difference between graphic novels (what I do) and comic strips, hell there is a huge difference between graphic novels and comic books but at least it's the same medium.
Comic Strips (especially todays) are mostly Joke a Day-- and no thanks, I think those are hellish (one of my favorite words). There are exceptions-- the ones I mentioned above plus BLOOM COUNTY and even PEANUTS sometimes but for the most part I hate the continuing nature of the adventure strips or the lame punchline of the comedy strips.
I'm trying really hard to change that.
IDW Publishing is easily my favorite comic publisher- they put out the great book collections done by Craig Yoe and they've been doing those amazing ARTIST EDITIONS (send me some IDW!!) which reproduce the ORIGINAL ART of classic comic work at FULL SIZE! Absolutely to die for!
They've also done some nice deluxe hardcover collections of strips like DICK TRACY, BATMAN, SUPERMAN and TERRY AND THE PIRATES. I picked up a huge lot of all of these for very little money so I've now got enough reading material to spend the next three years on the couch or in a hammock in the yard on a nice day.
The Dick Tracy Strips-- which I have from the World War II era-- are spectacular. AMAZINGLY written and drawn for adults with outright violence and drama that would cause mother's groups to picket the Times buildings today if they ever decided to run them now.
An interesting side note; Newspapers used to run GREAT comic strips like DICK TRACY (and I'm not talking about the watered down version that runs today-- I mean the gritty and grim version of these collections), Newspapers used to have tremendous circulation. Newspapers cut comic strips and now run inane mindless drek in the funny pages. Newspaper circulation is now in the toilet.
Could there be a connection?
I know I know, print is dying. People are getting their news for free on the web, but imagine if there was something in that paper that people just HAD to get the next installment of?
I have actual proof-- no kidding proof.
This here blog.
On an average weekday I get about 60,000 visits-- but on weekends it falls off to around 5,000-- a huge drop. Lately I've been running the Batman Comic Strips from the 1940s and visits are now up around 27,000 on Saturdays and 31,000 on Sunday. A HUGE upturn in visits.
Take note editors!
Back to IDW-- they collect the dailies in these great hardcovers with slipcovers and they are really beautiful.
The latest books to arrive from the lot are TERRY AND THE PIRATES by legendary cartoonist Milt Caniff! If you don't know Caniff you don't know the guy who influenced a generation of cartoonists and was a master of ink and brush.
I'm having fun with these-- maybe my attitude towards comic strips will change, at least in terms of the old classics.