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The Smithsonian Collection Of Newspaper Comics

March 2023
1min read

Edited by Bill Blackbeard and Martin Williams. Co-published by Smithsonian Institution Press and Harry N. Abrams. Over 750 plates, including 90 pages in color. Hardcover, $27.50; paperback, $12.50

Newspaper comics—typically irreverent and blunt—were beloved by the American public long before they were recognized as a serious native art form. One of the problems, according to the useful text that accompanies this great feast of comics, is that the early strips tended to appear in newspapers that bettereducated Americans didn’t read, such as the Hearst papers. Art critic John Canaday, who writes the foreword to this book, says that he followed his favorite comics as a boy in Texas by pawing through his neighbor’s trash, because his father wouldn’t allow a Hearst paper in the house.

Nowadays, comic strips are admired for their narrative power, their artistic originality, and the inventiveness of the language that bubbles out of their dialogue balloons. ( Goon, heebie jeebies, horse feathers, zowie , and glug were all originally comic-strip phrases.) In the years covered in this collection, 1896 to the present, an astonishing range of artists have tried their hands at drawing comics; John Held is here, and the New Yorker cartoonist Rea Irvin, and even Dr. Seuss. The connoisseur’s comic is unquestionably Krazy Kat, that gentle soul who meandered through George Herriman’s strip for thirty-one years.

In terms of both nostalgia and discovery, this sumptuous collection is positively seductive.

We hope you enjoy our work.

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Stories published from "June/July 1978"

Authored by: The Editors

A Tireless Photographer’s Record of a River Town

Authored by: John Keats

Wills are forever— or so we like to think. But what happens when they offend the changing public interest? Consider the curious

Authored by: Spencer Klaw

What’s Happened to the Long Gray Line

Authored by: Neil Rolde

The Passion of Percy Baxter—

Authored by: Bruce Catton

Gettysburg, Fifty Years After

Authored by: Martha Saxton

Institutionalizing the American Honeymoon

Authored by: Bruce Catton


Authored by: The Editors

Some Statistics and a Cautionary Note

Authored by: Stephen W. Sears

A British Officer Portrays Colonial America

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