Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Return Customer

Wednesday Christmas Present

Years ago Fantagraphics published a 'complete' collection of Jack Cole's 'last strip', Betsy and Me. It had long been a very sought after run, because it was the last thing Cole did before he took his own life and since all of his work is so shockingly beautiful this missing strip was a sort of a holy grail for many people. Unfortunately, the strip itself was not as good as Cole's previous work and some people even floated the idea that the creative and commercial failure of the strip could have been a factor in his suicide.

Not long after that I came across a Jack Cole Sunday that was not included in the collection as well as one of his successor on the strip, the unknown cartoonist Dwight Parks, also not included. I scoured my sources for more samples and not only did I find at least black and white scans of all the missing Cole Sundays and more importantly, many indications that the run of Dwight Parks was longer and creatively more on the nose than ever mentioned. After reporting on that on my blog, the son of Dwight Parks contacted me and I interviewed him for the newspaper strip magazine Hogan's Alley, filling in the blanks, like the fact that Parks had not in fact run the strip in the ground, forcing it to stop before the end of the year, but was contracted to fill out the year and knew the strip was going to stop after that.

That made it all the more unfortunate that most of his run of Betsy and Me was not included in the 'complete' collection, so I tried to remedy that here. Over the following years, I found a nice run of the Parks dailies for September and October and black and white Sundays until December the 14th. Unfortunately, I was not able to get in touch with David Parks anymore, but I wish him and his sister all the best and remain devoted to restoring their father's name.

So I am glad to be able to present to you as a special Christmas Gift one more month of Parks' dailies and the last five Sundays he did in color. I found a seller on ebay who traded a paper that had Betsy and Me. Unfortunately I was too late in discovering he did all of them, so I missed out on some of them before getting as many as I could get my hands on. He even helped me in contacting the buyer of an early December Sunday and getting it back to me. I am very grateful to both of them.

The biggest find of this set of Sundays is the fact that there seems to be one more Sunday tan I preciously thought. The December 21 Sunday is the last of the strip. The week after that, the strip no longer appears in this paper. The dailies I found were in a paper that was not collected for December, so there still remains a question mark. I guess the daily will have ended before the last Sunday, on December, but I am not sure. I may have run a little bit longer and have included Christmas Day. I would love to find an read these last few dailies, since Parks knew he was going to stop and I would like to see what sort of ending he put to it.

Of course there is always more to want. The Sundays I am showing here are two tiers, while the strip was produced as a three tier strip. In fact, under Jack Cole, it was the only strip I have ever seen that created the two tier from the three tier by dropping the middle tier!

Still for now, I leave you with Cole and Parks' very pleasant family strip. Merry Christmas.

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