Help with identifying Acme Novelty Library issue?
November 28, 2011 1:17 PM   Subscribe

Anybody a Chris Ware expert out there? I'm trying to determine if I have a first printing of Acme Novelty Library #1. It's got a $3.50 cover price, but says nothing anywhere about which printing it is (though much of the text is so tiny it's hard to see). It DOES say "issue 1 volume 4" in one spot, but I don't think this has to do with printing _ I don't think there were more than three printings. I'm duking it out with a pal over this -- and I really want to be right! Thanks.
posted by tboot to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (6 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
I know nothing about this particular author/series, but you might want to try searching Abe Books to see if you can find the exact book you have. You can't always trust the sellers to be realistic in terms of price (there are lots of things that can influence what they're selling things for), but it might help you identify what a first edition, first impression (AKA printing) of this particular item looks like.

Two other things:
(1) It's not entirely uncommon for first printings to not be listed as such.
(2) If you see a long string of numbers on the cover page, either increasing or decreasing in number, the lowest number is the printing (e.g., if you see "12 11 10 9 8 7 6" or "6 7 8 9 10 11 12", you're looking at a sixth impression).
posted by divisjm at 1:34 PM on November 28, 2011

In the scanned copy I have handy, the indicia on the inside of the back cover sez:
THE ACME NOVELTY LIBRARY, Issue Number One, Volume Number Five, Winter 1993-94. Third World-wide release printing, 1998... Single copies of this now infamous publication still cost the same amount as the previous printing, but the careful reader will the note the lack of smooth-as-a-baby's-bottom cover sheen this time around, struck from the printing process not only for cost's sake, but also because it's just starting to look a bit too "hip".
I am not familiar with publishing practices - and don't know if the second printing had a smooth-as-a-baby's-bottom cover sheen - but the impression I get from browsing some other issues of ANL is that the Volumes are comprised of whatever issues are published and reprinted in a given year. For example, the very first issue, published in 1993, would probably be Issue One, Volume One. My scanned copy, reprinted 5 years later in 1998, is included in Volume 5. I would check the indicia again, with an eye open for any 1997s which may be lurking in there.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 1:59 PM on November 28, 2011

My copy reads "THE ACME NOVELTY LIBRARY, Issue Number One, Winter 1993-94. Second big Printing, December 1995." It has a $3.95 cover price. So I think you have a first printing.

("Volume 4" has to do with which overarching narrative thread is in the series; Quimby the Mouse is another volume.)
posted by Casuistry at 3:39 PM on November 28, 2011

For example, the very first issue, published in 1993, would probably be Issue One, Volume One.

Maybe not in this case. The chronology's a bit weird; the Acme Novelty Archive notes the order of publication of the first few comics is not the order in which the strips were originally created, so it *may* be that Ware's "Issue one, volume 4" was his way of acknowledging that.

I think the $3.50 price tag is a good sign, since the 2nd printing shown at the Acme Archive site is $3.95. To be sure, I'd get out a magnifying glass until I found something like "winter 1993-94." The date's on it somewhere, for sure; find it and you'll know for certain if it's the first printing.

I don't think there were more than three printings

This page seems to have been offering a fourth printing at some point, but that doesn't seem really relevant.
posted by mediareport at 9:34 PM on November 28, 2011 [1 favorite]

I'm a bit of Chris Ware super-fan and it would be helpful to show a picture of the issue that you have. I have seen a few first editions in a local bookstore in the town I used to live in and each issue was in mint condition and was about $125(!) per copy. These were in fact first edition printings, and if I could see a picture of what you have, I could probably tell you whether or not if it was an original printing or not.

What's the content inside? There should be a little of everything; Rusty Brown, Quimby the Mouse, Superman, Jimmy Corrigan, the whole gang.
posted by ThaBombShelterSmith at 5:15 AM on November 29, 2011

Response by poster: Unfortunately, I don't have the issue in hand at the moment, so I can't scrutinize some of these fine details you all are describing. I should have it in my hand soon, and will report back. Thanks for the input!
posted by tboot at 10:31 AM on November 29, 2011

« Older Backwards inflation calculator?   |   When is it okay to keep the baggage in the bag? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.