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The Comics Before 1945by Brian Walker
Synopses & Reviews
In the five decades after the Yellow Kid first appeared in 1895, the funnies became an essential element of American life. Comic strip characters — Buster Brown, the Katzenjammer Kids, Krazy Kat, Tarzan, Dick Tracy, Popeye, Blondie, Li'l Abner — were everywhere. They starred in live-action and animated films, stage plays, and radio programs. Their phrases invaded the language; their adventures, which reflected societal changes, were retold in books and inspired hit songs.
This visually stunning, comprehensive survey — copiously illustrated with rare original comics art — is the most authoritative history of prewar American newspaper comics currently in print. It documents the major trends in the funnies business, decade by decade, and presents in-depth biographies of 21 of the most influential creators of the era. The Comics Before 1945 joins Brian Walker's The Comics Since 1945 to form a classic survey of American popular culture by one of the greatest authorities in the field.
"Something of a prequel to Walker's already released The Comics Since 1945, this volume actually surpasses its companion's considerable beauty and charm-if only because early newspaper comics were so whimsical and imaginative. Gorgeously illustrated, the weighty coffee-table book is organized by decade, allowing it to broadly contextualize the strips into the historical periods that gave them life. There are also brief, page-long bios of their most notable creators, among them Richard Outcault (The Yellow Kid and Buster Brown), Frank King (Gasoline Alley), Cliff Sterrett (Polly and Her Pals), Harold Gray (Little Orphan Annie) and Chester Gould (Dick Tracy). For the most part, however, Walker wisely steps back and lets the strips tell their own stories-a good decision since the one fault of the book lies in his prose, which tends to chug along with a kind of bland lethargy that doesn't quite rise to the verve of his subject. While informative and factually interesting, his writing often contains all the vigor of a college textbook. But the strips themselves are perfectly chosen and lovingly laid out: from the fanciful slapstick of the Katzenjammer Kids to the protosurrealist dreamscapes of Windsor McKay's Little Nemo and the obsessively reenacted dramas of unrequited love in George Herriman's Krazy Kat." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
More than 500 strips take the reader through the comics history of the first half of the 20th century. A brief chapter on each decade gives the reader a frame of reference, and biographies of the most important artists are included.
About the Author
Brian Walker, a cartoonist and a founder of the International Museum of Cartoon Art, has written and edited more than a dozen books, including Abrams' The Comics Since 1945. Since 1984 he has been part of the creative team that produces the strips Beetle Bailey and Hi and Lois. He lives in Wilton, Connecticut.
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