Friday, January 24, 2014

4 Great Comic Strip Anniversary Books (with Commentary by the Creators)

Comic Strip compilations are extremely popular, so what’s great about many anniversary editions is that the creator of the comic strip will give little notes about individual comic strips about the inspiration or the reaction to the strip.  Here in no particular order are four of the best:

1. Calvin and Hobbes 10th Anniversary Edition by Bill Watterson: A fantastic book for Calvin and Hobbes fans, this book features a long introduction by the creator about comics in general and his story into the comic world and battles with the syndicate over licensing.  Then he has introductions for all the main characters along with accompanying strip.  Then we get into the strip itself, which touches on all the favorite strip elements, including Spaceman Spiff, Susie Derkins interactions, the cardboard box inventions, horrible camping trips, Stupendous Man, Tracer Bullitt, a trip to Mars, in addition to individual strips that Watterson found meaningful or that people found offensive.  It’s a fantastic book to get in the mind of a very reclusive man.

2. The PreHistory of the Far Side: A Tenth Anniversary Exhibit by Gary Larson.  Now, like Calvin and Hobbes, there is a complete The Far Side collection.  What it may not have however, are many drawings along with notes from Gary Larson, including childhood drawings.  It gives you a fascinating look into the man who created a truly bizarre comic strip.  But that’s not the only unique thing about this book: because his strip is a one panel comic with the words on the bottom of the panel, sometimes a newspaper would accidentally switch the words with other panel strips, like Dennis the Menace.  Larson thought that it made both all the more hilarious, and included it in the book.  Overall, a fun and entertaining read.  [Note: this book is no longer in publication, so you either have to buy it used or find it from the library.]

3. Seven Years of Highly Defective People: Scott Adams’ Guided Tour of the Evolution of Dilbert.  Adams take you from the very beginning of the comic strip and then separates the books by sections devoted to each individual character, like Dilbert, Dogbert, Ratbert, Alice, Wally, Asok, The Boss (who is known as Pointed-Haired Boss to many fans), Bob the Dinosaur, and so forth, along with individual subsections about the characters of Dilbert and Dogbert.  The notes that Scott Adams gives offer a lot of insight into the comics themselves.  Plus, it’s interesting to see his struggle people who had a problem with stereotypical characters and the syndicate over content issues.  There’s also the sequel book, covering years 7 through 14, called It’s Not Funny If I Have to Explain It.

4. Baby Blues: Ten Years and Still in Diapers: by Jerry Scott and Rick Kirkman.  This one doesn’t waste any time with pages introducing the characters, it goes right into the strip with notes.  But what makes this book work so well is that so much of the book is based on the guys’ dealings with kids in their own life.  For example, one of the authors told a story which happened to him almost panel for panel in real life: Zoe, the oldest brought the Dad’s underwear to him and called it panties and of course the Dad tried to correct her to no avail.  Others topics include never-ending messes, seemingly perfect parent friends, sibling fights, the adorable way little kids see the world and differences between men and women in regards to parenting.  Knowing that, as well as those strips which caused a lot of mail to pour in, makes this another great book to get inside the minds of the comic strip authors.

There are plenty more out there, but these are the ones to get you started.  What are your favorite anniversary comic book collections? Thanks for reading?

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