Allan Holtz has turned his Stripper’s Guide over to Alley Oop publisher Chris Aruffo for three days allowing Chris to reveal how he went from Oop fan to Oop publisher. It’s a fascinating story.
Chris takes us from reading the comic strip in his newspaper to reading it online to gathering the physical strips in great condition to publishing the books.
When I opened the package and saw the pages, I was astonished; these were, of course, the best possible quality short of the original art itself. And, as the purpose of proof sheets is to be reprinted, I began to wonder … would I be able to reprint Alley Oop, and finally have them on my bookshelf, as I have wanted all these years? I sent an e-mail to United Media and waited for what seemed a very long time.
The rights were available! And, to my great relief, they were affordable enough to make me believe that the project could break even. Having signed the contract for these five books, I needed to decide how many copies should be printed, so I wrote to Rick Norwood, who had, years ago, produced Alley Oop Book Four following the three Kitchen Sink reprints. Rick was excited to learn about this project and offered to support reprinting the first six years of the strip…
Having gained the NEA Chris then went after the earlier Bonnet-Brown run.
Prior to the strip’s official launch in 1933, one hundred twenty daily Alley Oop strips had been published by the small syndicate Bonnet–Brown. A document of Alley Oop’s first year would be incomplete without these 120 strips. But they are exceedingly rare. Bonnet–Brown was a tiny little syndicate; the original Alley Oop strip appeared only in a handful of papers, and we don’t know what most of those papers were. I was able to uncover the names of five papers that carried it: the Fairbault, MN Times; the Alva, OK Daily Record; the Waynesboro, VA News Virginian, the Washington, NC Daily News, and the McAllen, TX Daily Press. I hoped that this list might help me track down the strip.
But the problem wasn’t in finding the strip. The problem was finding it in a reprint-worthy quality…
And in an amazing way, Chris hits the jackpot!
In Part Three –
well, that comes February 22, so check in to the Stripper’s Guide tomorrow for the rest of the story. The Caveman discovers Color.
You can find these books either at http://www.aruffo.com/alleyoop or on Amazon. All of the first twelve books from the ’30s and ’70s are already available. The next twelve are Graue’s ’80–85 and Hamlin’s ’54–’59, alternating each month through 2023. After that I expect to produce a couple oversize volumes of the wartime dailies, alongside all the regular volumes of all the other years, up through ’96, which is where the GoComics archive picks up.