Our Gang Vol. 1

Overview

The Little Rascals as written and drawn by Pogo's Walt Kelly!
Of the handful of comics' bona fide geniuses, few could match the versatility of Walt Kelly (1913-1973). Trained as an animator at Walt Disney Studios (he worked on cartoon shorts and Pinocchio, Fantasia, and Dumbo), Kelly left during a labor dispute in 1941. He immediately began a new career in the burgeoning field of comic books, contributing heavily to various Disney titles and single-handedly producing its classic...

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Overview

The Little Rascals as written and drawn by Pogo's Walt Kelly!
Of the handful of comics' bona fide geniuses, few could match the versatility of Walt Kelly (1913-1973). Trained as an animator at Walt Disney Studios (he worked on cartoon shorts and Pinocchio, Fantasia, and Dumbo), Kelly left during a labor dispute in 1941. He immediately began a new career in the burgeoning field of comic books, contributing heavily to various Disney titles and single-handedly producing its classic fantasy books, Fairy Tale Parade, Mother Goose, and Santa Claus Funnies. Along with fellow Disney alumnus Carl Barks, Kelly is now considered one of the two classic "funny animal" artists from the Golden Age of comics.
Surprisingly, Kelly's longest-running continuing series was based on actual people—the "real-life" characters of MGM's durable short-film series, Our Gang (a.k.a. "The Little Rascals"). Spirited and engaging, Kelly's Our Gang harks back to the days before television, when kids spent most of their time playing outdoors, limited only by each other's imagination and ingenuity. Kelly created nearly 100 Our Gang stories by the end of its 59-issue run in 1949, the year he quit comic books to switch careers a final time—as syndicated artist/writer on the immortal newspaper strip, Pogo.
This is the first in a series of books reprinting Walt Kelly's Our Gang stories. Suitable for both adults and children, Fantagraphics Books has lovingly restored the work from their comic book appearance, which will be printed in their original four-color splendor.

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Editorial Reviews

Booklist
“Ironically, while Our Gang films were [by the 1940s] slick and mannered, in Kelly's comics they regained much of their earlier, unaffected charm.”
Laura Gjovaag
“Our Gang is excellent. You need no knowledge of the films to follow the action, and each issue was self-contained, so you can read it in chunks.... An essay at the beginning of the book puts the stories into the context of their times, very important for any comic book from that era.... Definitely worth a read if you are a fan of old comics that don't involve superheroes.”
The Washington Post
“Kelly was a master storyteller.”
Publishers Weekly
Who knew there was a comic book based on Our Gang (aka The Little Rascals), the long-running series of short films featuring those lovable urban scamps, Mickey, Buckwheat and Spanky? And by Kelly, the man responsible for Pogo, no less. This is a sweet, idiosyncratic collection of comics dating from 1942-1943. Kelly, then a young animator and fledgling comic book artist, was given the job of bringing these icons to life on the comic book page; while it took him a few issues to find his groove, he eventually rendered the gang in his own eloquent visual style. As in all of his work, Kelly's characters are gently nuanced, his lively brush strokes giving them an unvarnished realism that jibes perfectly with their cartoonish surroundings. Kelly makes the characters his own-these comics never feel like adaptations. In these issues, the gang embark on their usual adventures, including making a circus, foiling a crime caper or two and even visiting a movie set. These comics are suitable for nostalgic adults and adventurous kids alike, though Buckwheat's unfortunate but contemporary racist rendering might require some explanation. But all in all, it's an exuberant and transportive collection. (June) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
KLIATT
Our Gang, a series of comic shorts that featured the antics of a gang of poor neighborhood kids, ran from 1922--1944; a number of episodes were reissued for television in the 1950s under the name The Little Rascals. This graphic novel reprints the first eight issues of Our Gang Comics, which features the adventures of five members of Our Gang--Froggy, Mickey, Happy, Janet and Buckwheat (Spanky appears in the first two issues). Many of these stories, which take place during WW II, have a patriotic theme: the gang recycles scrap metal, plants a Victory Garden and raises money to buy a war bond. They also tangle with their rivals, the Gashouse Gang, and catch tire thieves and gas bootleggers. Our Gang contains lots of slapstick material, and there is some ethnic humor: in the third issue the Gang stages a circus and the family maid flees the "cannaboils," none other than Buckwheat in a grass skirt. Fans of The Little Rascals and Our Gang will enjoy this graphic novel. Walt Kelly, the creator of Pogo, did most of this volume's story and art, so this graphic novel will be of interest to his fans (hence, the A rating). Younger readers may find the stories to be a bit dated, though they are fun to read. Our Gang contains comic book violence and ethnic humor and is recommended for collections that emphasize historical comics. KLIATT Codes: JSA--Recommended for junior and senior high school students, advanced students, and adults. 2006, Fantagraphics Books, 104p. illus., $12.95.. Ages 12 to adult.
—George Galuschak
Library Journal
Kelly worked for Disney animation early in his career; years later, he created the inventive and much-loved Pogo comic strip. In between, he wrote and drew comic books, where he brought to the page the well-known film stars from Our Gang (a.k.a. the Little Rascals). This volume reprints the first eight installments of that series spanning 1942-43, featuring Buckwheat (and for the first two stories, Spanky) along with some of the lesser-known later additions to the cast. These remarkably self-sufficient kids face off against the rival Gashouse Gang, run their own printing press, start a window-washing business, and throw their own circus. This being a wartime comic, they also plant a victory garden and buy war stamps. They also get into more danger than would be allowed in children's comics today, burning down their clubhouse and later getting threatened with a gun. This is straight-ahead comedy: enjoyable, and interesting because of its creator and its characters, but not outstanding. With a foreword by film critic Leonard Maltin, this is worthwhile but not essential. Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781560977537
  • Publisher: Fantagraphics Books
  • Publication date: 6/26/2006
  • Series: Walt Kelly's Our Gang Series
  • Pages: 96
  • Sales rank: 1,472,746
  • Product dimensions: 7.40 (w) x 9.60 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Walt Kelly is the creator of the legendary Pogo comic strip. He was born in 1913 and passed away in 1973.

Jeff Smith is the award-winning creator of the comic books Bone and RASL.

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