Where do you get prints of old newspaper comics?
October 21, 2005 12:17 PM   Subscribe

BirthdayFilter. Not mine, my dad's. He's going to be 80 next year and I'd like to do something special. He's always liked comics and has told me a lot about the comics he read growing up. What I'd like to do is get a collection of prints of comics that were printed on or around his birthday, October 16th 1926. I don't know how to do this though. There are also some serials such as Flash Gordon or Buck Rogers that I'd love to be able to find from the era when he was a kid. How do I go about this?
posted by substrate to Shopping (9 answers total)
Response by poster: P.S. It's anastasiav's blue post that made me think of asking here.
posted by substrate at 12:24 PM on October 21, 2005

You might want to think about getting something from around 1936 instead of 26 - your dad would have been 10 years old then and the comics from that era would probably be more likely what he was into. I'm guessing any decent comic from that era would cost you quite a bit because of their rarity. There's always the stuff that's associated with the comics - toys, collectibles - that kind of thing which ebay is obviously great for. A really nice framed print of a particular character like Flash Gordon might be really cool too. Just some suggestions.
posted by mrhappybanjo at 12:46 PM on October 21, 2005

Over the last thirty years or so, there've been quite a few comic book and comic strip reprint collections published. Many of them should still be available for pretty reasonable prices. Back when I was much more active as a collector, the best place to find these sorts of things was Bud Plant. I'd imagine EBay will, if queried properly, cough up all manner of neato things.

Beyond that, though, I'm not sure where I'd look.
posted by Clay201 at 1:02 PM on October 21, 2005

There's a strange building in my city called a "Library" which has collections of old comics like Flash Gordon, Little Orphan Annie, Popeye, Krazy Kat, etc. in big books. Try photocopying a couple choice panels and blowing them up for framing. They're usually organized by publishing date in the large collections.

Or talk to someone at your local comics store.
posted by Aquaman at 1:09 PM on October 21, 2005

Response by poster: The strange building called a "Library" in my city has no such thing.

mrhappybanjo, thge 1936 instead of 1926 sounds like a good idea. Clay201, budplant looks like it'll help a lot, thanks!
posted by substrate at 1:31 PM on October 21, 2005

Best answer: Aquaman's suggestions seem good, but aren't, at least not where I live (Portland). The libraries have some comic strip compilations, but not a lot. And the comic book stores generally aren't a good source for info on this stuff (though I can think of one exception). What you need to do is find a geek who likes old comic strips and movie serials, somebody like, well, somebody like me. Since you're in Wisconsin and I'm in Oregon, loaning of books isn't possible, but I'd be willing to help with scans, etc. (If I knew how to rip DVDs to my Mac, I could even convert some serials for you.)

That said: happybanjo is correct in that you may want to focus more on what your father would have been exposed to growing up rather than what was out on his birthdate.

First of all, you state that you father liked comics. Did he like comic books or comic strips? There's a difference. If it's comic books you're after, you can obtain high-quality reprints in hardbound volumes from such series as the DC Archives. However, these volumes reprint comics from 1938 and later. I'm not aware of any comic book reprints from before this era. (And, in fact, am very sketchy on the actualy history of comics in the late twenties and the 1930s.)

If, as is more likely, he was more into comic strips, things are a bit more problematic. There are bound volumes available, but they're more difficult to find. There's not a high demand, so they tend to be a bit more obscure. (I collect them, so I can speak to the challenge in locating them.) Popular comic strips from 1926 on include:
  • Krazy Kat, which debuted in 1913
  • Gasoline Alley, which debuted in 1918
  • Thimble Theater (with Popeye), which debuted in 1919
  • Little Orphan Annie, which debuted in 1924
  • Buck Rogers and Tarzan, both of which debuted on 07 Jan 1929
  • Blondie, which debuted in 1930
  • Dick Tracy, which debuted in 1931
  • Flash Gordon, Secret Agent X-9, Mandrake the Magician, and Terry and the Pirates, all of which debut in 1934
  • The Phantom, which debuted in 1936
  • Prince Valiant, which debuted in 1937
One of my favorites is Little Nemo, but that pioneering strip basically ran from 1905-1915, with various half-hearted later incarnations.

Based on the debut dates for various strips, you can see that there's not a lot of options in 1926. You'll have more choices in 1936. As I mentioned: I'd be happy to scan some strips for you. I have compilations for most of the above-listed titles.

If you need more info on comics, Don Markstein's Toonopedia might be a good resource for you.

Re: movie serials.

I think these may be a good choice as the main focus of your gift. They're readily available on DVD through Amazon, etc. Some of them are quite fun. (Or not, if you ask my wife.) Some of my favorites include Adventures of Captain Marvel from 1941, Flash Gordon (now sometimes called Space Soldiers for copyright reasons) from 1936, Dick Tracy from 1937, Jungle Girl from 1941, Undersea Kingdom from 1935, and Zorro's Fighting Legion from 1939. Again, these are easy to find at Amazon, though there are some great serials-only sites on the internet. (Sorry, no links handy.)

You might consider Little Rascals, episodes of which are also available on DVD.

Much to my wife's consternation, I collect all sorts of pop culture stuff from 1900-1940: books, magazines, comic books and comic strips, music, serials, movies, etc. I'm not expert at the era (I do this just for fun), but I'd be glad to help if you want...
posted by jdroth at 1:50 PM on October 21, 2005

Response by poster: jdroth, wow! Thanks!
posted by substrate at 4:42 PM on October 21, 2005

Althought I just can't quite top jdroth, I did stumble across this link on MetaFilter's mainpage: Barnacle Press :: Amazing Archive of Vintage Comic Strips

I hope this helps in one way or another.
posted by Jonasan at 5:00 PM on October 21, 2005

Response by poster: Thanks Jonasan, it's anastasiav's post that made me think of asking metafilter.
posted by substrate at 3:28 PM on October 29, 2005

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