Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Comic Strips – The Complete Little Orphan Annie and Tarzan: The Complete Russ Manning

Both of these volumes are from IDW’s Library of American Comics imprint, hands-down the best reprints ever done of American comic strips. 

- The Complete Little Orphan Annie Vol. 1: This book is a wonderful way to discover the plucky little red-headed orphan who leads one of the most adventure-filled lives in history. Reprinting strips from 1924 through 1927, readers discover Annie in her orphanage, being abused and longing for a real life and loving parents. She is introduced to, and ultimately adopted by “Daddy” Warbucks and his snooty, uptight wife—who has no love for Annie. Loveable mutt Sandy is also introduced and becomes Annie’s instant companion and protector. Several tumultuous storylines are presented; Annie meets and falls in love with a farming couple named the Silos, she joins the circus and becomes an elephant tamer; and circumstances force her several times to wander the country broke and alone, facing real danger. Through it all she adopts a stoic, can-do demeanor that thrilled readers of all ages for decades. 

This volume also includes informative background material by comics historian Jeet Heer, and over 1,000 daily comics with nine complete stories. This is truly one of the great American strips. 

Rating: ***** out of 5 stars 

- Tarzan: The Complete Russ Manning Newspaper Strips, Vol. 1 (1967-1969): I devoured the Edgar Rice Burroughs Tarzan novels when I was a teenager, and the Ape Man is one of my all time favorite adventure characters. It is always a treat finding high-quality depictions of Tarzan in other media. Russ Manning is a writer/artist who seriously “gets” Tarzan. He takes the Lord of the Jungle all over the world in this volume, from Africa to Opar, to Pal-ul-don and other time-lost lands. He also makes room for a few storylines with Korak, the son of Tarzan and Jane. Sometimes those storylines converge into one grand adventure. And Manning can draw it all perfectly, from beastly half-men to dinosaurs and fantasy monsters. If you’re a Tarzan fan, I don’t see how you can not have these books in your library. 

This first of four volumes (three of which have been published) includes more than 650 daily and Sunday strips from December 1967 through October 1969. Everything about it is top-notch, from the storytelling and art to the beautiful reproduction. A flawless volume. 

Rating: ***** out of 5 stars

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