Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Calling All Fans

Wedensday Extra Announcement.

For the last few years I have been assisting Bill Janocha on his book The Birth of a Beetle, out from Hermes soon. Bill worked as Mort's personal assistant for decades. When the family found a trunk full of originals by Mort, all from his stint as a cartoonist before he started Beetle Bailey, Bill was asked to put together a book. Knowing this would be the alst and only time such a book was made, it grew and grew to include an estensive history of Mort's career, his earliest wish to be a cartoonist and how it lead to his entry in the comic strip world. Apart from the originals found in the trunk, many cartoons were included from all of the publications they were sold to. I helped Bill search for these and even made a complete list of Mort Walker's notebook, where he kept detailed information on all cartoons he sold - and didn't sell. Together we found about 80% of Mort's published cartoons and we have a good idea where most of the others are (or at least, in what titles they were published).

Like the strips, Mort's cartoons (many of which I have shared here as well) are great. Bill has made them fresh by painstakingly restoring them and all in all the book has become a respectful, fascinating, insightful, very well drawn, comprehensive and outright funny document of the forgotten period of a grand master of cartoon art. It also has all of the Spider cartoons Mort made, both published and unpublished. Zpider, of course, was the student character that later became Beetle Bailey (who also was a student before he joined the army in 1952). The whole book was delivered to hermes press, who took on the responsibillity of publishing it in a climate where taste and distribution might not be what it was ten or twenty years ago. He also did a great book on Garfield, so it is not a one-off. But still, we will need all the sales we can get to make it profitable.

And this is where you come in. Hermes has placed a sollicitation ad for the book in the May issue of Previous. I understand that the new one arrived in comic shops this week, but maybe it it not to late to order it from #392. It is also available on Amazon as a pre-order. I get the impression that the price and page count are a guess, because there is enough material to make the book twice as large. What I do know, is that Hermes is probably putting out these ads to test readers interest - so the more people go and get this, the larer the print run will be. Allowing even more people to buy it later. It is also possible that Hermes will keep he print run pretty close to the order amount, so get it while you can. Thank of it as a Kickstarter for a book that is already almost done.

Hre are some of the rarer cartoons. I am not even sure if these are in the book. Bill and I exchanged so many scans I have lost track.

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