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Saving vintage comics

There’s an interesting article over at the San Francisco Examiner about individuals who are set to collect vintage comic strips with the hope of getting them reprinted in a collection. From the article, it appears that many of these collectors are fanatics who have spent a great deal of money to grow their collection. At least with the popularity and success of many of the complete volumes published by Fantagraphics – it shows that there is indeed an indeed an interest in these older classic comics.

It’s a habit Matt has had for some time. He clipped his first strip, a “Li’l Abner,” at the age of 9, in 1972. He now seeks out obscure work with little chance of getting reprinted, and King is a prime example. His collection forms the bulk of “Walt & Skeezix” (retitled from “Gasoline Alley” for licensing reasons), a decadelong, multivolume reprinting of King’s complete works published by D&Q (Drawn & Quarterly). (Volume 3 arrives in June.)

Matt is not unique among collectors. Peter Maresca, whose day job is creative director of GoComics/uClick Mobile, self-published his own collection of “Little Nemo” Sunday tearsheets as “So Many Splendid Sundays.” Fantagraphics’ “Popeye” and “Krazy Kat” series are made possible by the archivist Bill Blackbeard, and IDW’s “Complete Dick Tracy” relies on a legion of fans, because no single run is known to exist.

Their compulsion to own an artist’s every strip — sometimes 15,000 or more — and to clip, preserve and organize them all, has helped rescue a disappearing corner of American popular culture. After decades in which comic-strip syndicates and libraries have been purging themselves of paper archives for microfilm, their collections are often all that’s left.

Community Comments

#1 Charles Brubaker
January/22/2007
@ 6:22 am

Thanks for posting. That’s an interesting article.

I’m actually considering doing that – lately, I’ve been collecting “Conchy” for hopeful book reprints in the future.

#2 Dennis Crabtree
April/8/2010
@ 5:06 pm

I fell in love with Conchy back when it was a regular feature in the St. Louis papers—but I moved, and it wasn’t available in the local papers, and life just kinda got in the way of keeping track of old and favorite things. I eventually managed to get on the Internet, and ever since then I’ve been doing my best to reconnect with my old loves.
It was a shock to discover that the author of the strip had died so early in the game, and that he’d left so little of a legacy behind for the benefit of the rest of the world. I’ve been trying to track down an archive of the strips ever since; so far all I’ve been able to find is a couple of paperbacks…..the second of which must be printed on gold leaf, if the prices being asked for copies of it are anything to judge by.
If anyone out there knows of a comprehensive archive of the strip that I can access by e-mail, PLEASE let me know where it is!
Thank you.
Dennis L. Crabtree, notfromhere5@yahoo.com

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