Good weekend to ya.

*Process Dept: I’ve got my copy of Dan Nadel’s new hardcover book Art Out of Time: Unknown Comics Visionaries 1900-1969. I think I had the wrong impression of it going in - as several commentators have pointed out thus far, it’s pretty much a straight-up vintage comics anthology (albeit one focused on presenting the odd and obscure), with informational text kept to a minimum. Not that there’s much to say about some of these artists, beyond ‘his years of birth and death are unknown, as was his early life and prior career, not to mention his subsequent career, so he worked on this comic for a few months and vanished.’ There’s probably less text in here than there was in The Smithsonian Collection of Newspaper Comics, Bill Blackbeard’s and Martin Williams’ much-adored 1978 anthology this new book sometimes resembles, given its strong focus on pre-‘50s newspaper strips.

I have that book spread out above my copy of Nadel’s book right now. It’s sitting there along with Brian Walker’s The Comics Before 1945 and Bill Blackbeard’s, Dale Crain’s and James Vance’s 100 Years of Comic Strips (aka: The Comic Strip Century Vols. 1-2). Every time I finish a new section in the Nadel book, I read his biography of the artist(s) in the back, then I go flipping though those three older books, looking for added strips and information. Then I exclaim things like “Ho ho! Another Slim Jim page in the Walker tome!” and I take another swig of crisp Christian Brothers brandy to soothe my nerves. Actually, Slim Jim shows up in every one of these older books, but only for a page or two, so when you get to Nadel’s focus on the strip you’re assaulted with the feeling of knowing this stuff from somewhere, without being able to put your finger on it. Then you look it all up, and read them over again.

That’s half the fun of these vintage comics collections for me - cross-referencing and rediscovering. Nadel also has a few samples of pre-Code horror in there, so naturally I pulled out my stack of George Suarez’s reprint/cataloging/analysis extravaganza Tales Too Terrible to Tell from NEC (11 issues, 1989-93) to track down additional info and compare-contrast the one story reprinted in both projects, once in b&w and once in color (perversely enough, it’s the Bob Powell short Colorama - Nadel’s printing is the color one). And even then, suddenly I’ll happen upon Nadel’s section devoted to Garrett Price’s wonderful, short-lived White Boy strip, and then I just have to dig up the issue of The Comics Journal (#266) that featured 32 pages of the stuff…

I'll probably have a review of the Nadel book up tomorrow, if I ever finish actually reading all of it, what with all the flipping through of other books I find myself doing. It's really a fine collection, even if there's presentational issues that detract from some of the older collected strips, which are sometimes so reduced in size they're tough to read. More tomorrow.

*Meanwhile, here's another fine way to burn off however much free time you have: Catsuka.com's Focus On index. Catsuka is a French-language animation site that maintains generous free archives of assorted short works by leading (often Japanese) animators, most of them promotion-oriented. I particularly recommend the Koji Morimoto page, overloaded with music videos, experimental tidbits produced by the Morimoto co-founded Studio 4°C, and excerpts from shows and films Morimoto provided key animation on, often just the opening credits. Don't miss the early promotional reel from the Black & White feature, now finally soon to arrive (albeit not with Morimoto serving as director himself)!

This man has done it all, and done it well, and I can't wait for the upcoming anime anthology Genius Party, a big bad 10-segment monster featuring new work from Morimoto, Shinichiro Watanabe (Cowboy Bebop, Samurai Champloo), Shoji Kawamori (a whole bunch of Super Dimensional Fortress Macross projects, the awesome Spring and Chaos) Masaaki Yuasa (Mind Game, which I guess is never coming out on R1 dvd), Kazuto Nakazawa (the anime bits of Kill Bill), Mahiro Maeda (Blue Submarine No. 6, Gankutsuou: The Count of Monte Cristo), and others.

And getting back to Catsuka - Peter Chung! Oh man, they even have the title sequence to C.O.P.S.!! What are you waiting for?!