Thursday, May 26, 2016

Return to Orbit

It's been a long time since I've delved into the adventures of Orbit & Co.  I've been scouring over old newspaper archives trying to fill in the holes after their last expedition.  Along the way, I was continuously sidetracked by other comics that I figured could be saved for posterity later.  Then I noticed later comics that gave earlier comics more significance, and then had to go back and find the comics page again, costing me more valuable time.
An early comic I managed to find,
back when Orbit first met Tyrone.
One thing that struck me while going through so many old comics was how exhausting and mind-numbing the experience was.  If a newspaper happened to be missing the date to a specific strip, I'd have to look into another newspaper, which might have their own varied comics, which'd I'd notice, involve more cross-referencing, have to take note of, and then start the whole process all over again.  In some cases, I might find a better copy of a comic I found, and then replace those with higher quality versions.

It doesn't help that I'm not exactly meticulous in keeping track of which days/months/years I've already gone through.  In some cases, it's easier to just start later in a year, then work your way backwards.  Since that involves breaking up narrative flow, I haven't dared to venture down that path.

The philosophical paradox of Theseus having all parts of the ship being replaced aside, Tyrone is already contemplating mutiny despite not knowing how to control a spaceship.

Even though this Sunday comic actually shows up a day earlier, I posted it here, because it segues into the next strip better than the last one.

Around her is where the last adventures of Orbit trailed off.  From here, it's venturing into familiar uncharted territory.

I've already got a month's worth of Orbit strips all lined up and ready to go, but I hesitate to post them up too soon.  I'd like to go back over the newspaper dates I've already covered, trying to find an elusive Hi & Lois comic possibly posted sometime between 1980-1987.  That's a lot of pages to sift through.

Friday, May 20, 2016

License Request: Key Moments in Comics History

One of the greatest joys while book-hunting is making valued finds in out-of-the-way locations in second-hand bookstores.  I once found some old Pogo books that were available for their cover price of $1.00 each.  (Some of which I've posted before) Then there's printed collections of stuff no longer available online, such as Jesse Reklaw's DreamToons (people's dreams retold as humourous comics), and a Harry Potter fanbook with amusing comics by Johane "Horus" Matte and Katie Shanahan & "Shagster".  Among these finds was the discovery of a minicomic; Key Moments from the History of Comics.

This illusionary thin square book consists of a single image and a description on each page.  There were only a thousand printed copies for the Toronto Comic Arts Festival, May 2009, so stumbling onto this was somewhat of a stroke of luck.  The English translation is actually a compilation of two books, 28 Moments Clés de l'Histoire de la Bande Dessinée and Nouveaux Moments Clés de l'Histoire de la Bande Dessinée, both by Francois Aryoles, but published by different publishers.  (Le 9eme Monde [2004] and Alain Beaulet [2008])

For the most part, with little prompting, several names are easy enough to link to their prospective field alone, but others aren't quite as obvious.  Gustave Verbeck isn't instantly recognizable as a household name, but The Upside Downs of Little Lady Lovekins and Old Man Muffaroo would sound more familiar.

If there was a scientific equivalent, it would be along the likes of "Nikola Tesla strokes his cat."  By itself, this sentence would seem unremarkable, until you realize that Tesla's obsession with electricity started with being fascinated by the sparks flying off his cat's fur.  Unless you have knowledge of the cartoonist's background history and their achievements, most of the subliminal context is lost.

In fact, the one stumbling block would be that there's a high number of European artists that would be unknown to typical American audiences unfamiliar with exploring outside their comfort zone, most of the artists originating from Pilote Magazine.  The only woman mentioned, Claire Bretécher, is a famous feminist along the likes of Cathy, but with more biting political points.  Another comic history of cartoonists, Masterful Marks: Cartoonists who Changed the World was notably absent in any mention of influential women in it's pages, focusing more on middle-aged white men.  Surely there must've been other people worldwide who had just as much of an impact, but I suppose it's easier to look up historical facts regarding men.

From the wiki, it's well-established that Maurice Tillieux was all set out to do contribution to the war effort via his tour of South America, until a plane bombed ahead, forcing his ship to turn around and go home.  While this incident might have saved his life, there's no way to tell.  But his passion for telling stories centered around docks or the sea certainly made a lasting impression.

When I did a tally, I found there were about 8 artists missing from the first book, and more than a dozen from the second.  An expanded and complete version with reference notes in the back detailing who each cartoonist was, and their known history would help in explaining some of the more obscure references for those of us not fully versed in European Comics.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Birth of Nick

Nick of the Adam Family (not to be confused with The Addams Family) has been a staple for so long it's hard to remember a time when he wasn't part of their household.  A quick purvey through some old newspaper archives should rectify that.

When preparing for the upcoming pregnancy, Adam did trial runs to make sure the process would run smoothly.  They went as well as could be expected, and probably weren't repeated.  Given what happens next, they needed more practice.
The next update involving the expectant mother happened to occur on October 4th, during the Football season at the most crucial cliffhanger moment.

This football plot thread was quickly abandoned two days after the Sunday comic in favor of more intriguing drama.

During the labor process, Adam tries to be as helpful as possible.  The key word here is "possible".

For the uninitiated, Vince Lombardi and Tom Landry are Football coaches, clumsily shoehorning the Football subplot back in.  These comics were left out of the book collection, which goes to show that not everything left out is solid gold material.


I was unable to find the throwaway panels for this one, so you'll have to fill in your own jokes here.

Sometimes when padding out a storyline to fill a week, you wind up with clunkers, and this is certainly one of them.

Up until this point, the gender of the baby was still unknown.  There was also dispute over what the unnamed infant-to-be should be called.  Katy & Clayton's suggestions of Vanna, Mad Dog and Cobra were rightfully ignored.