Wednesday, April 17, 2024

The Inconvenient Truth

Wednesday Illustration Day. 

A couple of years ago the American publisher Checker produced a couple of interesting books. The first volume of the complete Scandinavian reprint op Beetle Bailey (taking over the design and the notes and comments from that excellent edition, whch was producent with the help and input of Mort Walker and his sons), a book with the best of the less well known Windsor McCay strips, Flash Gordon, Dick Tracy, Steve Canyon, Alan Moores work on Image's Surpreme title and a book reprinting al lot of McCay's political cartoons. I got them all and they were all disappointing in their own way. Some were printed very badly, some were badly sourced and used second rate scans and all were very badly laid out - except maybe the Beetle Bailey book, which suffered from the fact that it stopped after the first volume (where the Scandinavian series went up to 1980 or so). 

Not long after, Fantagraphics did their own book of McCays political cartoons. Which was a lot better, but concentrated on the art at the detriment of the meaning to my opinion. Now that is a difficult point. The editorials McCay was asked to illustrate were unreadable, like pilitical sermons that seemed intended to sent it's readers to sleep. McCays illustrations were often so alligorical or vague, that they all belended into on gray mess. 

I think that for me, a perfect reprinting of the McCay cartoons would be complete, they would have a short version of the editorial, a historical background and some sort of explaination of the cartoon. Since no one will probably ever do that, here are a couple I clipped earlier.


Smurfswacker said...

Actually, the text blocks beneath the cartoons do a pretty good job of summing up the essays. I wonder whether McCay did the cartoons first, after which someone turned them into sermons, or if McCay created cartoons specifically for each essay.

Ger Apeldoorn said...

I never considered that. I would certainly use those in a collection.