The IDW Books imprint have been hard at work over the past few years reissuing landmark comics in beautiful, oversized coffee-table editions. A few of their great titles are Blondie: The Courtship And Wedding, Polly And Her Pals (1913-1927), and Felix The Cat: The Great Comic Book Tails. IDW’s recent Golden Collection Of Klassic Krazy Kool Kids Komics is another fine example of what they do best.
As the name implies, this is a compilation of comics specifically drawn for kids. Although I read kids comics once upon a time, it has been a while. What is so fun about this book is the opportunity to relive some of those tales, and just how incredibly surreal and fun they are.
Editor Craig Yoe has collected of number of very famous (and some forgotten) masters here for kids of all ages. These include Dr. Suess, Syd Hoff, Walt Kelly, and Jules Feiffer — among others. One of the most fascinating selections is “The Adventures Of Mr. Tom Plump,” which was published sometime in the 1850s. It is the earliest known American comic book for kids, and the artist’s name has been lost to time. The reprint is from the only extant color copy.
Yoe has broken this collection down into nine different categories. The first, “Old Skool” is where Mr. Tom Plump appears. The other sections include “Fairy Tales And Fantasy,” “Kid Stuff,” “Funny Animals,” “People Are Funny,“ “Super Duper Heroes,” “Nonsense,” “Total Nonsense,” and “Now It’s Your Turn.”
We find Dr. Suess’ entry in (where else?) the “Nonsense” chapter. Suess-o-philes may be aware that he had a weekly newspaper strip called “Hejji” in 1935, but I certainly was not. Interestingly enough, the strip was never properly concluded, so writer Clizia Gussoni and cartoonist Luke McDonnell were commissioned for the book to supply a possible ending to the story.
Otto Messmer’s Felix The Cat makes an appearance in “Funny Animals,” as does one of Messmer’s lesser known titles “Jungle Jumble.” “Pogo” creator Walt Kelly is represented with a fantasy story called “Goblin’s Glen” from 1946. Syd Hoff may be best known for his classic children’s book Danny And The Dinosaur, but his “Tuffy And Clee O’Patra” from 1950 shows that he was well-suited to the kid’s comics genre.
Beneath each strip, Craig Yoe has provided interesting details about each of the cartoonists included. These short blurbs contain many illuminating gems of trivia that I for one was unaware of, and most likely many readers may find quite intriguing as well.
Taken together, the Klassic Krazy Kool Kids Komics collection is a great history of the genre over the past 150-odd years. As has been the case with all of the IDW titles I have had the good fortune to see, this is a definitive edition — and a worthy addition to anyone’s bookshelf.