Toon Time

My neighbor this weekend was having a yard sale, and local comics buffs were snapping up battered but still readable (and possibly Ebay-able) copies of everything from Conan the Barbarian to The Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers. That brought to mind a few wonderful comics titles that have crossed the desk of late.

Paul Di Filippo — also known around these parts as The Speculator — offers a brief review of Françoise Mouly and Art Spiegelman’s new collection The TOON Treasury of Classic Children’s Comics. It’s a smorgasbord of samples from the funny pages of the 1930s through the 60s , including famous strips as Little Lulu, Sugar and Spike, Captain Marvel, Uncle Scrooge and Pogo plus many lesser-known titles, pulled together with “superb taste and expertise.”

Equally breathtaking is Masterpiece Comics, R. Sikoyak’s overdue compendium of two decades worth of short comics pieces that take great works of literature and recast them in the styles of beloved strips. Dagwood and Blondie in the garden of Eden! “Inferno Joe” — bubble-gum-wrapper-sized Dante! And “The House of Bronte” — a full-scale retelling of Wuthering Heights in the manner of the great EC horror books. The matches of style to subject are unexpected, but sublime.

Finally, I’m pretty charmed by a new treat from South African cartoonist Joe Daly, a duplex volume entitled The Red Monkey Double Happiness Book. I won’t try to summarize this pair of slackerish, surreal adventures, except to say that they involve microwave weapons, rain sticks, breakfast cereal, hallucinogenic toads, and a wayward capybara.  And are just as entertaining as that list suggests.

-BILL TIPPER