The Dwight Stuff
Friday Comic Book Day.
We interrupt our regular schedule to show you a recent find I just had to share.
A couple of months ago, I reviewed Fantagraphic's reprinting of the 'complete' run of Jack Cole newspaper strip (and the last thing he drew before comitting suicide) Betsy and Me. I faulted the book for not being as complete as the ads made it out to be. In fact, anyone who can read dates could see that several of the Cole Sunday pages were missing. There was also no indication about how many Sunday pages Cole's succesor Dwight Parks might have drawn before the feature was discontinued. I even included a list of all Sunday pages in the book and the ones that might be still out there and included whatever color scans I had from Sunday pages that were left out. Check it out, if you haven't seen that post yet.
For a more informative investigation of this matter see Alan Holtz' review of the Fantagraphics reprint at his site. Here's a direct search link: http://strippersguide.blogspot.com/search?q=betsy+and+me
Recently I stumbled across a run of Betsy and Me Sunday pages that were not included in this book. All of them are taken from microfiche, so the quality isn't good enough to use for a reprinting, but it shows at least what's out there. And it is even more than I though. Not only did Dwight Parks draw a Sunday version of the strip (none of which were included in the book), he also continued it for twoo weeks longer than I speculated. My speculation was based on the cut-off point of Parks' daily strips. The two extra weeks in december makes one wonder if there are any more dailies out there as well. Unfortunately, the set of Sundays I found doesn't start until late in the Jack Cole run (starting probably even after his death), so I can't use it to find the missing Cole Sundays. Another run I found of the daily strip ends on November 15, so am still no closer to finding out when the strip ended. Let me say again that this is in no way intended as a warning not to buy the book. It is well produced and has a great forward by R. C. Harvey. Still, it's too bad the people at Fantagraphics didn't research this as well as they could have. Some might argue that Parks' run of Betsy and Me is not important enough to warrent a reprint. Still it would have been nice to have all the relevant information in the book. And I have to say, looking at these Patks Sundays, he really didn't do a bad job of it. It makes you wonder if Cole didn't write these ahead or if there may have been a secret writer involved. As it stands, the reprint book will determine how people view Cole last comic strip effort. Not to have some of his impressive Sundays included seems like a big mistake. additionally, I have to say that the takeover by Parks seems so smooth, that it would even be possible to suggest that Cole was replaced on the strip (or handed in his resignation) before his suicide. And what does it mean that at least one paper took on the strip only after Parks took over the chores? Apparently someone was still selling it. What was their sales pitch?
Of course, these are in poor condition. And they are all two tiers, so there may be some paper out there that published the three tier version.If you ever come across a run of this strip, please have a look and report back to me.