Tag Archives: smithsonian

6 Collected Editions Worthy Of Your Attention #7

Is there one book that is a “must have” that came out this week? My friends Andy Tom (@AndrewJTom), Chris Campbell (ChrisCampbell8), Marc Diefenderfer (@Dief88), Shane Hannafey, Adam Besenyodi (@adambesenyodi), and I (@ChrisCCL) are sharing six comic book collected editions, reprints and/or graphic novels released this week that you may be interested in.

Secret Battles of Genghis Khan (IDW)
Secret Battles of Genghis Khan (IDW)

Picked by @AndrewJTom
Secret Battles of Genghis Khan (IDW), $21.99
I love world history. Especially dramatizations of history that are told in a format not all that dissimilar to a fictional account. In recent years, books like Petrograd have really captured my attention. Often times they may not be 100% accurate in their depiction, but the use of history to tell a compelling story is something I find fascinating. I suppose that somewhere deep within the recesses of my mind I’m thinking, “Yeah, it definitely could’ve happened that way.”
So last week I”m checking out the new releases and I see a book entitled “The Secret Battles of Genghis Khan”. I’ll admit that growing up in the 80s, I didn’t have much of a grasp on who Genghis Khan was aside from the guy with the sporting goods in Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure. I grew older and wiser. Many years later I watched the oscar nominated film, Mongol. I became fascinated with Genghis Khan; and was eager to learn more about the man. Fast forward a few years… imagine my excitement when I saw a book on the release schedule entitled “The Secret Battles of Genghis Khan”. At first I was hesitant, wondering how good it could be if I hadn’t even heard of it before. Then I saw that the writer was Daryl Gregory. That’s right, the same guy who took Planet of the Apes (a franchise that hadn’t been utilized in many years) and turned it into an outstanding comic. Gregory was able to take an otherwise “burned out” property and turn it into something special. Then I thought, “Imagine what this guy can do with a legend, some history and a character like Genghis Khan”. This book tells the story of Temudjin as he wages war from the Middle East all the way to the Pacific Ocean and the bloody battles that gave him his fearsome reputation. If you’re a history buff, a Conan reader, or a military enthusiast; you owe it yourself to pick this one up. Remember… before there was Conan, the world had the Legend of Genghis Khan.

Star Trek: The Next Generation / Doctor Who: Assimilation 2 Volume 2 (IDW)
Star Trek: The Next Generation / Doctor Who: Assimilation 2 Volume 2 (IDW)

Picked by Shane
Star Trek: The Next Generation / Doctor Who: Assimilation 2 Volume 2 (IDW), $17.99
Take the one of the oldest Scifi franchises in US history and one of the oldest Scifi franchises in UK history blend them together and what do you get? Like peanut butter and chocolate, two great tastes that go great together! Who would have thought this would have worked? There have been a lot of failed crossover attempts over the years, so when I read that Star Trek and Doctor Who were being melded together in comic book form, I was excited but cautious. The end product has definitely been a success, so if you haven’t read this already, with the release of this second volume, all the issues are now available in trade. Instead of going with the first crew of the Enterprise, IDW went with the Next Gen era of Star Trek and then took the latest incarnation of the doctor, as played by Matt Smith. Then they took some of the greatest foes of each franchise, the Borg and the Cybermen and thrust them upon our heroes. This melding was real obvious as you have two races with the same goal in mind; take all life forms and make them part of a collective whole that is part human, but more machine. Read how the crew of the USS Enterprise and the Tardis team take on these classic villains. This was a fun storyline and well worth the read! Check it out!

Darwin: A Graphic Biography (Smithsonian Books)
Darwin: A Graphic Biography (Smithsonian Books)

Picked by @adambesenyodi
Darwin: A Graphic Biography (Smithsonian Books), $9.95
Having a sixth-grade science nut in the house makes for an interesting perspective on things. (The number of hours he’s spent watching Mythbusters off the DVR, from Netflix, and on DVD would likely be staggering if calculated.) But that’s also what makes stuff like a graphic novel on the life of Charles Darwin a natural in our house. Originally produced in the UK in 2009 for the 200th anniversary of Darwin’s birth, Darwin: A Graphic Biography saw considerable exposure despite limited release. Now, Smithsonian Books has worked with writer Eugene Byrne and artist Simon Gurr to expand and repackage the content for a proper US release. If you can ignore the annoying “Ape TV” framing conceit, the story of Darwin’s life is presented in a way that should engage the middle school set enough to pass along some deep-thinking ideas, even if they aren’t necessarily looking for them.

Counter X Generation X Four Days TP (Marvel)
Counter X Generation X Four Days TP (Marvel)

Picked by @Dief88
Counter X Generation X Four Days TP (Marvel), $24.99
When the first X-Men movie was released in 2000, Marvel tried to boost sales by re-branding its X-Men titles under two major banners: “Revolution” for the ones that already sold fairly well, and “Counter X” for the rest. Unfortunately, the three Counter X titles lasted only two arcs before they were canceled (or, as was the case with X-Force, radically rebooted). One of the casualties was the long-running Generation X, and it’s the final five issues of that series that are collected in this trade. Interestingly, the first “Counter X” arcs for each series were collected way back in 2008, and it’s only now that Marvel has apparently decided to wrap them up; and that’s good news for us, because this trade contains some of Brian Wood’s earliest work on mainstream superhero comics. The team of mutant teenagers gets a fitting, if rather somber, send-off in these issues – one well worth reading if you’re interested in the characters or in seeing what Brian Wood was up to almost fifteen years ago.
Collects Generation X #71-75 and material from X-Men Unlimited (1993) #34

American Comic Book Chronicles: 1960-64 (TwoMorrows)
American Comic Book Chronicles: 1960-64 (TwoMorrows)

Picked by @ChrisCCL
American Comic Book Chronicles: 1960-64 (TwoMorrows), $39.95
Well the long wait is finally over. First announced at Comic Con International (San Diego) in 2009, The American Comic Book Chronicles is one of the most ambitious projects ever by TwoMorrows. Of course, TwoMorrows Publishing is no stranger to comic book history. Their numerous books and magazines have produced in-depth analysis and research regarding our favorite hobby – and for some of us, profession. The Chronicle are just that: A year-by-year and decade-by-decade look at the comic book publishing history. The one volume 1980s book was to be the first but for whatever reason we are getting 1960-64 as the first hardcover. Volume 2 of the 1960s should follow soon and it’s with noting that the 1940s will be a two volumes set, too. Since I’m a writer for Back Issue Magazine, I was able to get an advance copy and I can tell you it full of wonderful discussion and artwork from what is arguably the most important 5 years in all of comicdom.


Marvel Firsts: WWII Super Heroes TP (Marvel)
Marvel Firsts: WWII Super Heroes TP (Marvel)

Marvel Firsts: WWII Super Heroes TP (Marvel), $39.99
So you’re interested in reading and learning more about the Golden Age Marvel Comics (Timely) heroes but don’t want to spend the money on expensive Masterworks? Well look no further then this new, wonderful and large sampler of GA material that showcases every notable hero. Marvel did this previously in a similar manner with the Golden Age of Marvel Comics Volumes 1-2 trade paperback set in 1999-2000. This new book does collect some of those stories but some new ones, too. It’s unfortunate that Marvel didn’t re-release the first 2 trades and simply just make a Volume 3. Instead Marvel decided to make the book as part of their Marvel Firsts line.  Still, it’s a nice introduction to some famous (Sub-Mariner, Captain America, Human Torch) and not so famous (Ferret, Dynamic Man, Marvel, Black Marvel, Blazing Skull, Red Raven, Patriot, Young Allies, Whizzer, Rockman, Jack Frost, Destroyer, Witness, Miss America) characters that have been lost in time. However, even better the characters may just be the artists and writers who worked on the books: Jack Kirby, Carl Burgos, Joe Simon, and Bill Everett just to name a few.
Collects Marvel Comics #1; Daring Mystery Comics #1-3, #5 and #7; Marvel Mystery Comics #4, #13, #28 and #49; Mystic Comics #1-2 and #4-7; Red Raven Comics #1; Captain America Comics #1, #6 and #13; Human Torch Comics #4; Young Allies Comics #1; and USA Comics #1-2

Now it’s your turn. What books that came out this week do you recommend? Take a look at the sidebar to see this weeks collected edition releases.

Sunday Review: The Smithsonian Collection of Newspaper Comics HC

I have enormous respect of the comic strip as a potential story and art form, although far too few of its productions have realized their potential. If those few, however, could be gathered into some sort of complete collection, the effect on those who have scorned the comics as a whole might well be devastating…
– Edmund Wilson from a letter to Bill Blackbeard, 1966

Bill Blackbeard passed away on March 10, 2011, but me and almost everybody else in comicdom didn’t get wind of it until this past week. If you didn’t know who Blackbeard was, that’s OK, but know this: he was instrumental in the preservation comic strips. His love of the strip is evident in his work with San Francisco Academy of Comic Art, which, according to his Wikipedia entry, hosts more then 2.5 million clippings. That, in of itself, may not sound like a lot in 2011 with everything digitally reproduced for you fingertips to search on, but consider that Blackbeard collected strips when no one else did – including the publishers themselves! His foresight has not only led to the medium, critique and study of comic strips (and comic books), but he was the early forerunner into what we know as the Collected Edition.

True enough comic books started out as reprints of comic strips and others made comic books what they are today. Add to that, there have been collections of strips and comic books throughout the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s but no book has made an impact, and continues to make an impact, like Bill Blackbeard’s The Smithsonian Collection of Newspaper Comics (1977, Smithsonian Institution Press and Abrams). What Blackbeard set out to do was to showcase not only the best that comic strips had to offer but the most important and worth preserving for future generations. Originally priced at $29.95, it has had multiple printings (I own the 1985, 5th printing), is 10.5” x 14.5”, and has 336 pages with over 750 strips and panels from a multitude of titles (the ones listed below are just a sampling of what to expect) . Edited by Blackbeard with Martin Williams the book is broken down into down eight major parts:

  1. Folklore Figures in the Early Sunday Comic Strip, 1896-1916; featuring The Katzenjammer Kids, Little Nemo in Slumberland, Naughty Pete, and Mutt and Jeff
  2. Popular Images in the Early Daily Comic Strip, 1907-1927; featuring S’Matter Pop?, Mutt and Jeff, and The Family Upstairs
  3. Long-Lived Stars of the Comic Strip’s Second Two Decades, 1916-1936; featuring Polly and Her Pals, Blondie, Bringing Up Father, Krazy Kat, and The Bungle Family
  4. Anecdote and Narrative in the Daily Comic Strip, 1917-1933; featuring Barney Google, Wash Tubbs, and Moon Mullins
  5. Anecdote and Narrative in the Sunday Comic Strip, 1930-1941; featuring Buck Rogers, Flash Gordon, Tarzan, Popeye, and Alley Oop
  6. Extended Narrative in the Daily and Sunday Comic Strip, 1928-1943; featuring Barnaby, Secret Agent X-9, Terry and the Pirates, Dick Tracy, and Little Orphan Annie
  7. Comics Miscellany, 1928-1950; featuring Li’l Abner, Felix the Cat, Pogo, and Casey Ruggles
  8. The Return of the Funnies; featuring Peanuts, Beetle Bailey, B.C., Boomhilda, Momma and Doonesbury

There is also a very nice Foreword by John Canaday, a leading American art critic; and it contains introductions to each chapter and has annotations throughout the book by Blackbeard and Williams. In the back there is comprehensive material for the completest including A Selected, Introductory Bibliography of Books and Articles on Newspaper Comics and An Annotated Index of the Comics. It should be pointed out that Jerry Robinson’s The Comics: An Illustrated History of the Comic Strip (1974) is listed among the bibliography and you may already know that book was just updated and published with Dark Horse a few weeks ago.

With that in mind, The Smithsonian Collection of Newspaper Comics spawned a companion book edited by Martin Williams with J. Michael Barrier called A Smithsonian Book of Comic-Book Comics (1982) and you guessed it, it focuses on Comic Books and if you have picked up Dan Nadel’s Art In Time and Art out of Time, you’ll want to have this one beside them on your bookshelf. That book got an update in 2004 with The New Smithsonian Book of Comic-Book Stories: From Crumb to Clowes edited by Bob Callahan. As expected it’s a bit more contemporary with a look at work by Alan Moore, Stan Lee, Steve Ditko, and Art Spiegelman to name a few. I don’t own it, but perhaps I’ll pick it up someday. As far as both Smithsonian originals go, nobody should be without them. They are indispensable resources.

Finally, if you have stumbled upon the podcast and blog this week you’ll notice that I have a bit of a comic strip theme going. I interviewed Brain Walker who has updated his own two books The Comics Before 1945 and The Comics Since 1945 into one The Comics: The Complete Collection. Next week I’ll have an interview with Pete Maresca, Sunday Press Books, and will talk about his relationship with Bill Blackbeard and how he has helped him out through the years.

The Smithsonian Collection of Newspaper Comics HC
Edited by Bill Blackbeard and Martin Williams
$29.95, 336 pages, 1977, Smithsonian Institution Press and Abrams
Collects selected newspaper comics strips from 1896-1974

Also recommended:
The Lexicon of Comicana by Mort Walker