INTERESTING LINKS: Allan Holtz’s Library of Congress Survival Guide: October 16th, 2008


TODAY’S FEATURED ITEM: Allan Holtz at The Stripper’s Guide has been recounting his recent comics research trip to the Library of Congress, and has many tips for wading through the bureaucratic nightmare of getting what you want out of the LOC. Part I here, Part II here.

Here is a choice quote from Mr. Holtz:

“I really can’t stress enough how important it is to stay on the good side of these people. If you annoy them, and they are VERY easy to annoy, and they can make the rest of your time there a living hell. There are a practically infinite number of rules that they can choose to enforce if they so decide, and you will run afoul of them pretty much no matter what you do. In fairness I think I understand the reasoning behind it all. If you’ve spent a lot of time in research libraries you will have noticed that they tend to attract a certain percentage of weirdos and nuts. The LoC is no exception, and once it becomes obvious to the staff that they have one of these on their hands, they use their deadliest weapons — that laundry list of vague rules, some of which they come up with on the spur of the moment, to gradually convince these fruit loops to take their craziness elsewhere. I’ve seen the strategy put into action and it is remarkably effective.”

The Hyperion Library of Classic American Comic Strips

There have been multiple times that I’ve tried googling for information about the excellent Bill Blackbeard edited Hyperion Library of Classic American Comic Strips series from 1977 and come up dry. I’ve decided to provide a list of them here for reference for anyone looking for the same info. Here are the “titles in series one”… I don’t believe there ever was a series two.

Skippy 1925-1926 by Percy Crosby
Barney Google 1919-1920 by Billy DeBeck
School Days 1923-1924 by Clare V. Dwiggins
A. Mutt 1907-1908 by Bud Fisher
Connie 1929-1930 by Frank Godwin
Bobo Baxter 1927-1928 by Rube Goldberg
Baron Bean 1916-1917 by George Herriman
The Family Upstairs Introducing Krazy Kat 1910-1912 by George Herriman
Abie the Agent 1914-1915 by Harry Hershfield
Dauntless Durham of the USA 1913-1914 by Harry Hershfield
Napoleon 1932-1933 by Clifford McBride
Winsor McCay’s Dream Days 1903-1914 by Winsor McCay
Bringing Up Father 1913-1914 by George McManus
Sherlocko the Monk 1910-1912 by Gus Mager
Jim Hardy 1936-1937 by Dick Moores
Happy Hooligan 1904-1905 by Frederick Burr Opper
Buster Brown 1906 by Richard F. Outcault
Thimble Theatre Introducing Popeye 1928-1930 by Elzie C. Segar
Polly and Her Pals 1912-1913 by Cliff Sterrett
Bobby Thatcher Including Phil Hardy by George Storm (Bobby Thatcher 1927, Phil Hardy 1925-1926)
The Bungle Family 1928 by Harry J. Tuthill
Minute Movies 1927-1928 by Ed Wheelan

Note that you can still buy some of these rare volumes at reasonable prices (and many at outrageous prices) here.

Of Muppets and Men: The Making of the Muppet Show

I’m a big fan of the Muppets… I was indoctrinated from an early age with lots of Sesame Street. The early Muppets stuff I think is some of the most fun and inventive stuff I’ve seen done with the television medium.

Here is the first part of a very cool behind the scenes documentary on the Muppet Show (with links to the other 5 parts below)… I haven’t had time to watch the whole thing yet, but if you’re into puppetry, you could learn a lot from this.

It’s pretty facinating (and somewhat disturbing) to see all these muppets with their puppeteers, since the puppeteers are such excellent artists you normally forget they are puppets, and see them as living things.

Definitely not for the little kids! Don’t kill the magic!

Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6

The Tradio: Pentel’s Fountain Pentel Replacement

I wrote the other week about my love of the Fountain Pentel, and how I was about to acquire a replacement for it from Wet Paint.

I have now purchased it and tried it out, and it is a wonderful thing!

The new Fountain Pentel actually isn’t called a Fountain Pentel… it is called a Tradio. The flexible tip is the same as the one on the Fountain Pentel (although it is black instead of white)… it gives you great versatility in the thickness of the line you are drawing depending on how much pressure you apply. This is what really sets it apart from other pens.

Other than that the Tradio is quite different… and quite an improvement over the previous model.

Unlike the Fountain Pentel, the Tradio is a refillable pen. Although I was hoping this might mean I could fill it with whatever ink I wanted to, this is not the case. The refillable cartridge is quite large and enclosed… and it includes a new nib. Essentially, the refills are the whole pen, minus the case. You could, if you were inclined, just buy the refills and use them as pens… not that I recommend it, as it wouldn’t be very comfortable to hold.

The refills aren’t terribly cheap, but they are very comparable to the price of a Fountain Pentel when they were still manufactured.

One of the major problems with the old Fountain Pentel was that it was essentially a felt tip, and the tips would often dry out and kill the pen. So far, that problem seems to have been eliminated with the Tradio… the ink, which is free-flowing liquid rather than ink soaked into a felt tip mass (as was the case with the Fountain Pentel), flows smoothly and easily.

The ink is also seems to be blacker than the ink in the Fountain Pentel… hopefully this means I won’t experience the fading issues I had with the ink in the Fountain Pentel, although I won’t know the answer to this for years.

All in all, the Tradio is a wonderful and relatively inexpensive pen… I can’t recommend it highly enough. You can order one from Wet Paint here (which I believe is currently the only North American distributor for these wonderful pens).

HOW TO GET YOUR COMICS ONLINE PART FOUR: Publishing and Promoting Your Work on the Web

This is the fourth and final part of a series of articles on getting your comics online. Here are the previous parts:

HOW TO GET YOUR COMICS ONLINE PART ONE: Advantages and Disadvantages of Putting Your Comics Online

HOW TO GET YOUR COMICS ONLINE PART TWO: Publishing Options, and the Necessity of RSS Subscriptions

HOW TO GET YOUR COMICS ONLINE PART THREE: Getting your Images Ready For the Web

Before I begin, I discussed briefly in chapter two some notes on building your website. I mentioned that I use Dreamweaver (and the other Adobe web applications), which costs money, and I directed you to a free option (called Seamonkey) made by the Mozilla foundation, the makers of the Firefox browser. Here is another free option I heard of recently that sounds pretty promising called NVU.


Publishing files to the web is easy. Once you have your domain set up, you will just put the url along with your username and address into your FTP program, and then you can treat the folder that contains your website pretty much like any other folder on your computer.

For an FTP program (file transfer protocol… a program to upload your files to your webserver), I use and recommend the freeware program Filezilla. Dreamweaver and some other webpage editors have the ability to ftp built into them (as do many recent operating systems, for that matter).

The main file people see when they go to your site, located on the top level of your site, should be called index, as in index.htm or index.html. The index file is the first file browsers will look for. Once you put an index file on the top level of your domain, that is what people will first see when they go to your url.

You’ll also want to create some subfolders to keep things organized. You’ll definitely want a folder called images to keep your images in. You’ll probably want subfolders in the images folder like my_comic and my_other_comic. If you don’t organize your files in folders, and by sensible names, things will quickly get out of hand, and it will be hard to find what you’re looking for.

Some good rules for naming files:

1) Avoid most special characters.
2) Use all lower case. The web is case sensitive, and if you use multi-case, you will regret it, I assure you.
3) Don’t use spaces in file names. Use underscores ("_") instead.
4) When numbering files, use 0’s. This will also make your life easier. If you think there will be 1-99 images in a series, name them image01, image02, image03, etc. If you thing there will be 100-999 images in a series, name them image001, image002, image003, etc.
5) Use long descriptive names when necessary. This will make your files easier to find. I like to break up my files by large categories to small categories. Here’s an example of a good long file name:


You refer to files on the web by their location. If you put the above example image in your images folder, you would be able to reference it at:

That is what you would use to reference the image in image tags (which would make the image show on an html page):

<img src="">

Or if you wanted to link to them:

<a href="">My image</a>

Again, the purpose of this series of articles is not to be an html tutorial (there are plenty of those out there). Hopefully, these examples get the general idea across, but if you want to learn more about html tags, you should find plenty of information elsewhere.


Well this is something I certainly don’t excel at myself, but I’ll share with you the promotional options I know of anyhow (in no particular order).

A) The Cartoonist Collective

One excellent way to promote your work is to post your work with other cartoonists, so you can share readers and promotion. You can share a website with your cartooning friends. Group blogs work great for this. Both Blogger and WordPress can be used as group blogs just as easily as solo blogs… you just add users in the admin. This seems like a great option to me, and would potentially be a load of collaborative fun.

B) Ranking Sites

There are a number of ranking sites around the web. Getting ranked on these sites will get you some traffic, but I wouldn’t recommend spending much time trying to improve your ranking on them… I don’t think any of them are very effective ways to promote your work. Here are the ranking sites I know of:

C) Getting on Search Engines

There are some things you will want to do to make your website search engine friendly… there are a lot of things you can do, but I wouldn’t recommend spending too much time on this either, since trying to second guess search engines is probably more of a headache than it is worth.

You will want to do is put metatags on your home page. These are just some tags you add to the top of your page code. Here’s an example of some metatags put into the head of an html page:

<title>My Website</title>
<meta name="Description" content="My Website is a site where My Comics by Me, a comic strip about my life, appears on a daily basis.">
<meta name="Keywords" content="my first name, my last name, comic strips, comics, webcomics, cartoons">

This is very easy, so you really shouldn’t get intimidated by it… just paste the above code into your html page in the appropriate place and change it in the appropriate places to reflect the contents of your site, and that is all there is to it.

Note that there is no limit to the number of keywords or other information you can put in your metatags, but you don’t want to go overboard with it… by all accounts I’ve seen, it doesn’t help to do so, and it may even hurt. Your best bet is to try and describe your content accurately and concisely.

Using descriptive titles on your pages and providing alternate text for your images will also probably help with your search engine rankings… I usually don’t bother with this, but it is a good idea.

Many search engines will encourage you to send links to your site with descriptions. Again, I don’t think this is worth spending a lot of time on, but every bit helps. If you’re going to do this, hit google, yahoo and msn first (especially google), since those are the biggest ones. If you have a blog, you’ll probably want to register it at Technorati, which is probably the biggest blog searching site around. You may want to look for comics specific search engines like this one. There are some sites out there that will submit your site to multiple search engines at once, but I don’t have one to recommend, and a search for one leads to some pretty sleazy looking sites, so be careful where you enter your information, as always.

If you want to explore this stuff more, google offers a service for helping you to improve your ranking on their search engine, which may be useful.

D) Getting on Link Lists, Blogrolls, and Web Rings

Getting links to your site from other places will help your search engine rankings… it is one key for getting a good rank on Google.

Unfortunately, there is no real formula for this… some sites out there encourage you to send them links for them to add, but mostly they get put up by folks who find your work and like it.

Trading links with other cartoonists is an accepted practice… the term "blogroll" for the list of links on the side of a blog comes from the book publishing term "logrolling" which refers to the industry practice of authors trading blurbs for the covers of each others’ books.

I tend to think Web rings don’t work very well for getting new readers, but I may be wrong… I don’t think most users will follow links unless they have a compelling reason to do so. However, any links will help your search engine rankings.

E) Commenting and Participating on Blogs, Message Boards and Other Forums

Commenting on other peoples’ sites is a good way to drive traffic to your site. Most message boards will let you add a signature to your posts, which you can use to provide links to your site or sites.

Don’t comment just for the sake of commenting though… you won’t make any friends contributing to all the spamblabber out there on the web. Comment only if you have something to say… being an active participant on the web with worthwhile contributions will build your reputation and your web traffic.

F) Reviews

Getting reviews is among the best way to find new readers. Even bad reviews probably help somewhat, although you certainly don’t want to seek those out… send your work to appropriate places to get read and reviewed. If you’re doing a comic about superheroes, don’t send it to get reviewed by furries, and versa-vica.

Where are these places to get reviewed? Really, I don’t have a lot of resources for this. You would think there would be a ton of comics review blogs out there, but honestly, I haven’t seen all that many. There is the Comics Journal, but that focuses mostly on print comics. There is the Webcomics Examiner, but they don’t provide any obvious way to submit your work for consideration, which seems like a pretty serious oversight. Here’s what a search for webcomics reviews on google gets you. Do you know of more good comics review sites? I’d love to hear about them in the comments.

G) Subscriptions and Email Subscriptions

As I mentioned previously, having an rss feed for your comics is the best way to build a readership. If people subscribe to your feed, they will receive all your updates when you make them without having to visit your site to find the updates. This will build your fan base, and having fans that are vocal advocates of your work is the best way to find more readers. For more information about rss feeds, I refer you to previous chapters of this article.

H) Social Networking Sites

Social networking sites like myspace are a pretty good way to help build an audience if you use them actively, or so I hear. I have two I’m maintaining on the biggest social networking site for cartoonists and comic geeks, comicspace. I have one for me, and one for the Cartoonist Conspiracy. I also have one on myspace for Soapy the Chicken that I haven’t logged into for months.

I don’t have time to be active with these in addition to my own sites, so I just use them to rather pathetically "add friends." I really don’t think this is doing me much good at all.

However, if I was active with these, posting comics, newsreleases, etc. on them, I would guess it would pay off… I’d rather spend my time working on my own comics and sites, though, and these social networking sites can clearly be a big time hole. It may hurt you if you are like me, and you don’t properly maintain them, so I wouldn’t suggest building them unless you intend to spend the time checking and updating them regularly.

I) Paid Advertising

Some comics sites offer paid advertising. I played around with some cheap ones on a fairly popular webcomic site and on one of the ranking sites to see if they would increase the traffic on my Soapy the Chicken site. My traffic did go up a bit. I REALLY don’t recommend it, though, since it costs money, and I don’t think it will generally help your traffic that much. How many times have you clicked on a banner ad? I’ve been surfing the web since the early nineties and I don’t remember ever clicking on an ad that I didn’t make.

J) User-Driven Recommendation Sites

There are some sites out there specifically designed for recommending links. Digg is one of the most popular examples of this. Users submit a site, and the more it gets viewed and recommended by users of that site, the better its ranking gets on the site. You can encourage users to digg your content by adding a button for digg on the bottom of your posts, if you have a blog.

There are a lot of other sites out there that do this sort of thing… I’d only focus on ones that are well used if you are going to pursue encouraging this sort of thing. If you join and explore feedburner, it will point you to a number of them, and will make it easy to add them to your rss feed.

K) Monitoring Your Traffic

There are many online applications that will let you see where your website traffic is coming from.

This knowledge can help you see where you are most benefiting from various promotional attempts, and help you know the best things to focus your energy on.

The excellent resource feedburner is a good thing to use (for monitoring traffic and a number of other reasons) if you are maintaining a blog site. There are a multitude of other options… any halfway decent webhost will provide you with a way to monitor this stuff on some level. Most of these will probably involve some level of setup, but it usually isn’t too complicated.

L) Word of Mouth

Good word of mouth comes from doing good work, getting it read, and getting people who are passionate enough about your work to want to tell others about it.
I think this is the single most effective way to promote your work, and it is also possibly the hardest to acquire. I don’t think there is a formula for getting good word of mouth, necessarily… the best you can probably do is keep at it, publish frequently (ideally on a schedule), encourage everyone you encounter to read your work, and encourage those who read your work to spread the word. Your devoted readers are your best allies for getting you more devoted readers.

M) Go to Comic Conventions

Besides making great comics, there is probably no better way to get devoted readers than meeting your readers in person. Comic conventions are the easiest way to do this. Usually it will cost some money to get a table, so sharing a table can help. There are some wonderful, rare conventions out there that offer free space to creators as well… the excellent Twin Cities conventions FallCon and MicroCon both do. If you know of other free conventions, or conventions you recommend for other reasons, please let us know in the comments.

N) Have a Signing, Reading, Art Show or Other Event

If you’ve published something, having an event to promote it at your local comic shop may get you some new readers. Talk to your favorite comic retailer and see if they are open to it. You could even tour with your comic to comic shops around the country, although clearly, this is a lot of work, expense, and risk.

Don’t limit yourself to comic shops, necessarily either. Bookstores, coffee shops, bars, and galleries may be open to an event as well, if you pitch it right… and finding audiences that don’t usually read comics can sometimes provide you with some of the most enthusiastic fans.

O) Meet Other Cartoonists

Meeting other cartoonists to collaborate, share advice, and cross-promote with is pretty essential… and awfully rewarding. The act of cartooning is a very isolated endeavor… it is awfully nice to have friends who can relate to it.

Besides going to conventions, the best way I know of to meet cartoonists is to attend or start a cartooning group locally.

I like to think the best resource for meeting cartoonists is to join The International Cartoonist Conspiracy, a group which I am the webmaster for. Any cartoonist anywhere can start a cell of the Conspiracy. Membership is open to all cartoonists regardless of gender, race, age, religious beliefs, sexual orientation, attractiveness, wit, or talent. Only the desire to produce comics is necessary.

Besides social interaction on our website, we have cells around North America (and soon, the world!) that meet regularly in the flesh to draw comics. We’ve been conspiring since December 2002, and currently have cartoonist cells of varying levels of activity in Minneapolis MN, San Francisco CA, Calgary/Edmonton, Chicago IL, Lancaster PA, Milwaukee WI, Montreal, Rice MN, Sacramento CA, Sioux Falls SD, Springfield IL, Kansas City MO, Santa Fe/Albuquerque NM, Springfield, MO, North Carolina and Albert Lea, MN.

If you join the Conspiracy your local group will be part of a bigger group of collaborators as well, and will be able to post to our group blog, add events to our calendar, and have a section of our message board. Go here for more information about joining the Conspiracy, and contact me directly if you want me to get you set up.

Know of other ways that work for promoting your comics? Have questions about what I’ve posted? Please let us hear about them in the comments!

The Fountain Pentel, and Why I Love Wet Paint

I’ve been using the Fountain Pentel as my pen of choice for many years, and I love them… The Fountain Pentel has a unique plastic nib which bends to draw a different thickness of line depending on how much pressure you apply. They are fun to use, and like no other pen I’ve ever experienced.

I actually bought a gross of them in the 90’s as I was afraid they would stop making them, as they were always a hard to find pen. My supply of this unique pen is dwindling.

Looking recently for replacements, I discovered that, horror of horrors, my premonition was accurate and they are no longer sold in the US… in fact, I couldn’t even find an image of the Fountain Pentels I use online, they are so out of date. Here’s one for you I just scanned:

Fortunately, in St. Paul we have Wet Paint, the world’s greatest art supply store. I contacted Tim Jennen, the marketing manager and buyer for Wet Paint (who also happens to be a member of the Conspiracy) and let him know about my dilemma.

Tim has a passion for hunting down obscure art materials, and he just emailed me some good news shortly after my inquiry:

Hi, Steve—

I’m still hoping to bring in the regular Fountain Pentel at some point, but I have brought in a different version of this pen that I found—the Tradio Fountain Pentel, which is refillable. Here’s some info on it:

Tradio Fountain Pentel TRJ50

Tradio Fountain Pentel

A fountain pen with the perfect combination of style and performance. A flexible plastic nib creates a variety of line widths, from thick to thin, depending on the angle and pressure applied. The innovative, see-thru free-flowing system delivers a consistent ink flow for smooth, effortless writing from the first stroke to the last. The ergonomic barrel design provides added comfort and writing control. Black ink. Uses Pentel’s MLJ20 refill in black.


The pen is $10.00, but on sale during our Make Your Mark sale through the end of April at $8.50. The MLJ20 refill is $3.95.

The next time you’re in the store, check it out!


Tim Jennen, Marketing Manager/Buyer
Wet Paint: Artists’ Materials & Framing

Refillable! This is very exciting news to me, as my major gripe with the (disposable) Fountain Pentels I’ve used is that they fade with age… hopefully the ink in the cartridges is non-fading, or I can figure out a non-fading ink solution for this. I can’t wait to try one… I’m gonna try and make it over to Wet Paint this weekend, and I’ll give you a comparison to the disposable models once I try this out.

So now Wet Paint is apparently the only US supplier for two of the greatest cartooning tools ever created… the Pentel Pocket Brush Pen and the Fountain Pentel. I believe they are also the last place left that you can buy supplies for gocco screen printing machines, which are quite wonderful.

If you’re looking for a specific art supply and can’t find it anywhere, contacting Wet Paint is a good bet… they have an online store with their wares as well, so you don’t have to live in the Twin Cities to get a hold of these wonderful tools. Their prices are great too… we’re very lucky to have them in the Twin Cities.

Help the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund by Surfing the Web

I recently found out about the search engine, which donates a penny for every search you make to the charity of your choice. This is an easy way for comics enthusiasts to help out the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund. The search engine is powered by yahoo, so it should work pretty well. Here’s a news video about it.

You can see on the site how much has been raised so far for the charity of your choice… so far, in the history of the search engine, a total of $1.89 has been raised for the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund. We can do a lot better than that. Get searching! I just made them four cents!

Obviously, one person doesn’t make a ton of difference doing this, but an organized effort definitely can. The above video mentions one charity that made over 2 grand. Tell your comic enthusiast friends!

Unfortunately for the Fantagraphics Legal Defense Fund, only non-profits can earn money from goodsearch… otherwise I’d suggest searching for them, since the CBLDF has unfortunately decided not to assist them with their current legal troubles. However, you can still do yourself a favor and support Fantagraphics by buying some of their numerous excellent books!

Classic Comics in Print: A Tour of the Gold Mine

Although finding classic comics on the web is great, printed comics are more pleasing to read than ones read on a computer monitor, in my view. Good reprints of classic comics used to be relatively hard to come by… we now live in a world filled with many reprints of the greatest work from comics history… it is truly an embarrassment of riches (although there is still, of course, huge amounts of beautiful neglected stuff… I’ll talk about that in future posts).

This article will provide an overview of some of the great reprinted material that is out there, in no particular order.

Cover to E.C. Segar's Popeye Volume 1

1) Fantagraphics Books ( is indeed the world’s greatest publisher of comics, and they offer a huge selection of amazing reprints among their wares (along with some of the best new stuff you’ll find anywhere). They are currently reprinting some of the greatest comics of all time, and doing it with style, class, historical research, and good design (which is not true of many of the other comics reprint publishers).

Here you can find (in progress) the complete George Herriman Krazy Kat Sundays (and a dailies overview book coming soon, all beautifully designed by Chris Ware… the Sunday books will also be including Herriman’s Stumble Inn Sundays), the complete Charles Schulz Peanuts, the complete Elzie Segar Popeye (a new series just started… they reprinted these previously in excellent but inferior black and white volumes), the complete Walt Kelly Pogo (new series coming soon), the complete Walt Kelly Our Gang, a volume of Otto Messmer’s Felix the Cat, the complete Harold Gray Little Orphan Annie (new series coming soon), the complete Hal Foster Prince Valiant, the complete Hank Ketcham Dennis the Menace, some great Winsor McCay reprints, the collected works of Jules Feiffer, a new printing of The Comic Strip Art of Lyonel Feininger (coming soon) and more.

In addition to all the great old strip reprints and great modern stuff, they have also produced a number of reprints of some of the best in underground and more recent comics, including The Complete Crumb, Foolbert Sturgeon’s The New Adventures of Jesus, some Jack Jackson reprints, and a ton of Vaughn Bode stuff.

Besides all of those wonders, they publish the Comics Journal, which now includes a healthy chunk of comics in every issue, generally reprinted from obscure sources.

Please note that Fantagraphics is currently suffering very serious and expensive legal troubles, and they have started a legal defense fund to help with this. One of the best ways you can assist them is to BUY THEIR BOOKS, preferably directly from them. A good cause like this is a great way to help justify doing yourself the favor of purchasing some their vast array of wonderful books.

2) Drawn and Quarterly (, another wonderful publisher of comics, is currently publishing beautifully designed reprints of Frank King’s Gasoline Alley (published as Walt and Skeezix) and Tove Jansson’s Moomin. Their Yoshihiro Tatsumi reprints have been very interesting… Tatsumi was (and presumably still is) quite the innovator in presenting adult content in comics, and I had never seen any of his work before these reprints. They have a Clare Briggs’ Oh Skin-nay! reprint in the works as well.

Cover to Walt and Skeezix Volume 1

3) Spec Productions ( produces many small press reprints of obscure and wonderful stuff, with an emphasis on old adventure strips including Captain Easy, Flash Gordon, Buck Rogers, Alley Oop… and Gasoline Alley!

Besides adventure strips, they are producing some great George Herriman reprints called By George! The Komplete Daily Komics of George Herriman edited by comics historian Bill Blackbeard (full disclosure: I designed the covers for volumes 2-4). These books reprint much Herriman stuff you won’t find anywhere else, including the first Krazy Kat strips!

Cover to By George Volume 2

Krazy Kat got her start as a footer strip for Herriman’s comic strip The Dingbat Family (aka The Family Upstairs)… this series aims to reprint that entire series, along with all Herriman’s other dailies (the first volume includes the entire runs of Herriman’s daily strips Baron Mooch and Gooseberry Sprig!).

Also cool about these Herriman reprints, these strips are reprinted at the full size they appeared in the newspaper, which is BIG. You’ll probably want this on the same shelf as your Complete Segar Popeye series from Fantagraphics!

Note that they are also selling A Supplement to The Yellow Kid which is presumably a supplement to the currently out of print (although still relatively inexpensive) R.F. Outcault’s the Yellow Kid: A Centennial Celebration of the Kid Who Started the Comics.

4) The Pacific Comics Club ( also offers a variety of small press reprints of stuff that you won’t find elsewhere.

They also have a series of Herriman books, these ones reprinting Herriman’s Krazy Kat dailies (full disclosure: George Herriman is probably my favorite cartoonist of all time). Wonderful stuff… unfortunately, the Krazy Kat strips are reprinted at a very small size… they are well worth owning regardless, seeing as you can’t currently get them anywhere else.

Cover to Pacific's Krazy Kat Dailies 1923

Pacific is also carrying the gorgeous and long out-of-print 2 volume set of Cliff Sterrett’s Polly and Her Pals reprints that came out from Remco in the 80’s… don’t miss these. Sterrett is a master… Polly and Her Pals is expressionistic, beautiful and hilarious… it is one of the greatest comic strips of all time. The cheapest used copy they have on Amazon is over twice the price.

5) Sunday Press Books ( recently produced an enormous book of Winsor McCay’s Little Nemo in Slumberland, published at the actual size the original strips appeared (16×21 inches).

Cover to Sunday Press Books' Little Nemo

I haven’t seen the book, but it has received rave reviews all over the place… apparently, the strips look better than they ever have before (including than they did in the newspaper 100 years ago). They are planning a second volume. They are also planning a collection of McCay’s Little Sammy Sneeze.

Besides the McCay reprints, they are planning additional projects in this enormous format include a reprint of Gasoline Alley Sundays called Sundays With Walt and Skeezix designed by Chris Ware, and a 7 or 8 volume collection of miscellaneous old newspaper comics… I gotta start saving my pennies… read more here.

6) Checker Books ( I’ve been buying their comprehensive reprinting of Winsor McCay’s Early Works (8 volumes so far), and it looks like they are adding an oversized Little Nemo reprint, an oversized Dream of the Rarebit Fiend Saturdays reprint, and an oversized book of some of Winsor McCay’s Editorial Works.

Even more exciting (to me) they are starting a series of books reprinting miscellaneous Dr. Seuss editorial cartoons and illustration work. They also are reprinting Flash Gordon, Steve Canyon and Dick Tracy (the Max Collins stuff rather than the Chester Gould).

Cover to Checker's Theodor Seuss Geisel: The Early Works Volume 1

7) IDW Publishing ( recently started publishing a complete set Chester Gould’s bizarre and stylized Dick Tracy.

Cover to IDW Publishing's reprint of Chester Gould's Dick Tracy Volume 1

8) Lee Valley ( Here’s a weird one. Lee Valley offers reprints of Out Our Way, Our Boarding house with Major Hoople, and The Bull of the Woods, as well as cowboy and US Calvary cartoons… and a whole lotta books on woodworking. Go figure.

Cover to Lee Valley's reprint of Out Our Way

9) NBM Books (, an excellent comics publisher probably known mostly for their reprints of modern European comics (they’ve reprinted some great Lewis Trondheim, Joann Sfar and Jacques Tardi books… and they are the major publisher of underrated American cartooning genius Rick Geary) appears to be getting into the comic strip reprinting game… they have a reprint of Mutt and Jeff (the first daily comic strip) listed on Amazon. Here’s an article about the reprint (the strip was originally titled A. Mutt).

Cover to NBM's Forever Nuts: The Early Years of Mutt and Jeff

Digressing, here’s an interesting bit of comics history about Mutt and Jeff. The Mutt and Jeff comic started in the sports section of newspapers, and part of the reason it became hugely popular (besides the fact that it was really funny) was that apparently some people thought you could get tips on what racehorses were destined to win from the strip.

10) Hogan’s Alley magazine regularly reprints a chunk of classic comics that you won’t see anywhere else. It is the closest thing out there right now to the sorely missed Nemo Magazine published long ago by Fantagraphics, which had a wealth of comics history in it (you can still hunt down back issues of Nemo pretty cheap on Ebay).

Cover to an issue of Hogan's Alley

11) DC Comics ( has a series called DC Archives that reprints mostly various Time-Warner-owned properties. Some highlights of this (in my view) are Will Eisner’s excellent series The Spirit (which is actually not a Time-Warner property, as far as I know), Mad (only one volume so far, alas), Plastic Man, and Captain Marvel (Shazam!). Lots of good obvious stuff too, like Superman and Batman. I wish they’d reprint Fox and Crow!

Cover to a volume of the Will Eisner The Spirit reprint series

Unfortunately, these books are awfully expensive… around 50 bucks each, depending on the volume. They really need to put these out in paperbacks.

Note that although they have only reprinted one issue of Mad as a book, they just released every issue of mad on a DVD set.

On the subject of complete magazines on DVD, you can get the Complete Cartoons of the New Yorker this way as well, or the Complete New Yorker if you want to get more than just the comics. I heard somewhere recently they were going to put out the complete Playboy magazines & cartoons this way as well.

12) Marvel Comics ( has two reprint series of their stuff… their Marvel Masterworks series and their Essentials series. The Essentials series is no frills, black and white, phonebook-like, and cheap. The Masterworks series is color, slick, and mostly hardcover and overpriced like the DC Archives. However, they recently reprinted some paperback Masterworks volumes with Barnes and Noble that are VERY cheap… especially when you find them on the discount shelves at Barnes and Noble. Highlights of this stuff (in my view) would be the Ditko/Lee Spiderman, the Kirby/Lee Fantastic Four and the Steve Gerber Howard the Duck (only available as an Essentials volume).

Cover to the Essentials Howard the Duck reprint

It is worth noting, that, although the paper of the essentials volumes is cheap and will probably deteriorate rapidly over time, a lot of this stuff looks better to me in black and white than color (a lot of the coloring they are using just looks unpleasantly garish on slick paper).

Marvel has started to explore complete DVD collections of their archives as well… here’s the complete Spider-Man on DVD.

13) Dark Horse Comics ( is currently doing a great, very affordable reprint series of John Stanley and Irving Tripp’s Little Lulu. They’ve also reprinted some great old Japanese comics, including Osamu Tezuka’s Astro Boy and Kazuo Koike’s Lone Wolf and Cub. They also published the reprints of Bob Burden’s Flaming Carrot, which, while not that old, is a classic comic in my view.

Cover to a volume of Dark Horse's Little Lulu reprint series

14) Russ Cochran, who has done a number of wonderful reprints of the output of EC Comics in the past has started a new series of full-color hardcover reprints of them. He’s starting this series with reprints of Weird Science and Shock SupenStories.

Cover to a volume of Russ Cochran's Shock Supenstories reprint series

15) American Comic Archive ( is publishing a magazine called Big Fun, which reprints some classic adventure comics including the Leslie Turner Captain Easy.

Cover to an issue of American Comic Archives' Big Fun Magazine

16) Rick Norwood’s Manuscript Press is the publisher of long-running strip reprint magazine Comics Revue.

Cover to an issue of Manuscript Press' Comics Revue Magazine

If you are planning to buy some of these books (and aren’t planning on doing it directly from the publishers), you should really check out Bud Plant, as they have the world’s most mouth-watering catalog of wonderful comics-related and other art books, many at insane discount off of the cover price, and for every $100 you spend they give you $10 off your next order. They also have a lot of signed books with special bookplates that you can get nowhere else… and generally these bonuses cost no more than the regular price of the books. They carry the majority of the stuff mentioned in this article, as well as a number of great reprint books that are long out of print, like volumes of the Kitchen Sink Press reprints of Al Capp’s Li’l Abner.

Another resource is Ken Pierce Books (, which offers a number of strip reprints for sale… I don’t believe they published any of them, but they may have. Again, Bud Plant I think is probably the best resource for getting a bunch of this stuff in one place, but this site may have some stuff that Bud Plant doesn’t.

Isn’t Amazon really making enough money off of all of us as it is? Please consider supporting your local comic book stores as well whenever you make comics-related purchases… if you don’t support them, they disappear.

That said, I haven’t seen this Krazy Kat dailies 1918-1919 reprint (published by Stinging Monkey Press, now defunct) available anywhere recently except for Amazon. I can’t get enough Kat, as you may have noticed… so I’ll also mention that there is a wonderful Krazy Kat: The Comic Art of George Herriman book which provides a great overview of Herriman published by Abrams and co-edited by Patrick McDonnell (author of the best comic strip in today’s papers, Mutts).

Want to read these books and can’t afford them? I can relate! Thank heavens for the public library. Did you know if you request books and other materials from your local public library, they will often buy them? My public library even has a form on their website for such requests. It’s likely your library does also.

Request the comics you want to read at your local library and you do all of the patrons of that library a favor by spreading the good comics love. Although it has improved greatly in recent years, most libraries do not have nearly the comics collections that they should… help them find the good stuff!

I’m sure there are some good reprint projects I haven’t heard about… know of any? Let us hear about them in the comments!

UPDATE: Dirk Deppey of The Comics Journal and the excellent ¡Journalista! blog pointed out another reprint publisher on the Comics Journal Message board… here it is:

17) Classic Comics Press ( is currently publishing reprint books of Leonard Starr’s Mary Perkins On Stage and Gus Edson and Irwin Hasen’s Dondi. I’m not particularly familiar with either strip, but the examples of Dondi I’ve seen seemed pretty good. On Stage has a lot of rave reviews here, including one from the aforementioned Mr. Deppey.

Thanks for the heads up Dirk!

UPDATE #2: I thought of another one I forgot…

18) Pure Imagination has offered reprints of works by Basil Wolverton, Jack Cole, Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko, Alex Toth and more. Their Wolverton reprints are quite wonderful… I wish someone would do a complete reprinting of everything Wolverton ever did. If they have a website, I sure can’t find it. You can see a list of some of their output here, and there is a wikipedia entry about them here.

More About RSS Feeds From Popular Webcomics Hosting Sites

In the comments to my second installment of my How to Get Your Comics Online series of articles, there have been some responses about the rss options for some of the popular webcomics hosting providers, so I thought I would note them here:

1) In addition to, DrunkDuck and Comic Genesis both offer rss feeds.

2) Joey Manley of comics hosting provider (and the excellent Talk About Comics blog) notes that does indeed offer the ability for cartoonists to publish their full rss feeds, it just has to be turned on (partial feeds are the default option). He encourages folks to let cartoonists who don’t offer full feeds know that you want them. Sam Henderson and Roger Langridge, I hope you are reading!

The ProBlogger blog just did a survey of their readers to see what reasons people had for unsubscribing from blogs, which you can see here. Note that the third highest reason is incomplete or partial feeds. If you are a web cartoonist who is not offering your comics in your feeds, you are really shooting yourself in the foot… if you aren’t making it easy for your users to view the content in the way they want to view it, they more than likely will not bother to see your content at all.

HOW TO GET YOUR COMICS ONLINE PART THREE: Getting your Images Ready For the Web

You see a lot of poor quality images on various comics sites (including some of the ones on this one!) Here are some things to think about when getting your art ready to present on the web.


A lot of people don’t know the difference between bitmap and vector image files.

Bitmap files contain color information about every single pixel in an image. Popular bitmap formats are .jpg, .gif, and .png. Adobe Photoshop is a program that primarily works with bitmap art (although they are combining it more with vector art in the newer versions). These images can be scaled downwards.

Vector files contain mathematical coordinates for the points and lines and other information that an image is made out of. The only really popular vector format I know of is .swf (shockwave flash). Adobe Illustrator is a program that works primarily in vector art. Vector art can be scaled upwards or downwards without losing quality.



These are bitmap files… they have all of the information about every pixel of your image uncompressed. These make good, high quality source files, but you will never want to publish them to the web, as they are large files, and will take too long to download.


Probably the most widely used format is the .jpg (it is the format most digital cameras take pictures in). It is good for some things, but not for others. It is a lossy format, and most bitmap editing programs will ask you how high of quality you want to save it as when you save it.

Being a lossy format, the lower the setting you choose on this, the more information you lose… you sacrifice image quality for small image sizes. You lose information in an image even saving a jpg at 100 quality, so never use jpgs for your source files.

Why would you want a lower quality image? File size. If you want an image to download quickly, the .jpg does a nice job of compressing the information. At low settings, though, your images will look muddier and muddier.

The .jpg file tends to work well for gradiated color, photographic, and greyscale images.


.Gif files are also a lossy format, so again, never use these for your source files. However rather than controlling the range of quality from 1-100 to compress, with gif files you manipulate the color palette embedded in an image. The more you limit the number of colors used in a gif image, the smaller the file gets.

The .gif format works well for black and white and flat color images with a limited color range. Also, gif files can handle alpha transparencies, which jpg files can not.

You can have animated .gif files, but these are very limited. If these are not kept very brief they can get very large very fast.


There are three major web compatible formats for presenting bitmap graphics, .gif, .jpg and .png. Of those, .png is rarely used.

Why is this? I believe mostly because the format was developed later than the other two formats. PNG’s actually use most of the advantages of both .jpgs and .gifs, and improve and expand on them vastly.

I think they are compatible with all browsers too.

That said, I almost never use them except for source files (they are a lossless format)… this is probably more a force of habit on my part than anything else. Since they are a lossless format, they don’t “approximate information” of the source for the sake of compression, as jpgs and gifs do.

You can read more about the advantages of png files here, if you’re interested.

Note that the .png format was adopted as the source file format for Adobe Fireworks, which is an excellent program for preparing bitmap images for the web. It also does a very nice job of integrating vector art, bitmap art and fonts… I’m not sure if it is a default of the file format to handle vector as well as bitmap art or not, but you can do so very well with Fireworks. However, Fireworks is not the robust image editing solution something like Photoshop is (and it isn’t intended to be), but a lot of web-related stuff it handles much better than Photoshop does.


The .swf is the format popularized by the Adobe Flash Player. Swf files can do a lot of things, including complex full animation and multimedia. It is the only popular vector format used on the web that I’m aware of, although there may be others. There is a little more involved in posting these files online than there is with the other formats. However, since it is vector, you can have totally clean artwork at any dimensions, usually at very small file sizes.


I’m not going to say too much about scanning or image editing in this post… you can read some good information about scanning, among other things, here:

RE: A Guide to Reproduction: A Primer on Xeorgraphy, Silkscreening

I generally scan stuff at 800 DPI as a black and white bitmap for my source copy of a black and white image (if I color, it is generally done on the computer). Save this initial scan as a source file, and make alterations to it as a different file… that way you can always go back to the source if you need to.

Before altering a black and white image in scale or dimension, you’ll want to switch it to greyscale, or you’ll get some ugly, chunky pixels you don’t want.


Put copyright information, your name and your website url in all of your images (again, this is something I have neglected on my own website, although I’ve done it a lot in my Soapy the Chicken strip… I should always do this, though!). If you put a circle c © with a date and your name, you should be somewhat legally protected from copyright infringement. Obviously, you want copyright information on your website in general, but you should have it on each individual image you want to own the copyright of as well, because your images may not be viewed only on your website.

Anyone can grab your images for free on the web, and put the images on their website. While ideally they should at least give you credit for an image, frequently they won’t. If this makes you uncomfortable, you should very carefully in considering what you make available on the web. Having your copyright on all of your images will make it so anyone using the image will have to take the significant extra step of editing the image if they want to display your image without you getting copyright credit for it.

While I’m mentioning copyright, you may also want to consider offering some of your work under a creative commons license. These give you more flexibility in defining what can be done with your copyrighted images. The Cartoonist Conspiracy publishes all of the jam comics we produce online using a Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.5 license that allows people to reuse the content from them in certain situations. Read more about creative commons licenses on the creative commons site.


When deciding what size and dimensions to make your images for the web, consider the nature of the computer monitor. Some people still view the web on computers that only display 800×600 pixels. I tend to think anyone viewing the web at this size is pretty used to scrolling around to find the information they want. However, you may want to generally try to keep your web-posted images under 750 or so pixels wide anyhow to be accommodating… it will keep your file sizes down as well.

If you are making artwork specifically for the web, you may want to consider formatting it horizontally (like a comic strip) rather than vertically (like the traditional vertical comic book page). That way people will be more likely to be able to see the whole strip on their computer monitor at once.

That said, you do have an “infinite canvas,” if you want it… just keep in mind some users may not have patience for a lot of scrolling, if you care. I tend to think most people prefer the traditional & more passive “clicking to the next page” rather than “scrolling to the next part” (which can also take a lot longer to download, since you are loading more images on to a single page).

If you aren’t one of the majority of web users cursed with short attention spans, there have been some wonderful comics done exploring the infinite canvas concept, and it is definitely an area ripe for more exploration.


I mention above how some of the formats do a good job of compressing images down to a reasonable file size. File size of your images and all of your files online is an important consideration when you consider both how long it will take your users to download an image and how much of your bandwidth allowance you are going to use up.

That said, small files are somewhat less relevant than they used to be… more and more people have fast connections, and most cartoonists won’t dent their bandwidth allowance if they have a good hosting provider like Dreamhost (although really popular cartoonists might if they have heavily trafficked websites).

I believe having high quality images is more important than having small file sizes… although you don’t want enormous file sizes either. I wouldn’t generally go much below 80% on a jpg you’re publishing, and you probably won’t be happy with most .gif without at least 32 colors in your palette… the amounts on these things will vary with different images depending on how much information they contain, though. Try exporting versions of a graphic at different sizes and compare them… gradually you’ll get a feeling for the quality levels you want to shoot for.

If you’re posting a really large image, just save a small preview “thumbnail” version that links to your main image, or state the file size on the link that leads to the image.


Consider how you name your files carefully before uploading them. First of all, NEVER use uppercase characters, spaces or special characters… these will give you all sorts of headaches. If you feel like you need a space, use an underline _ instead.

I’d recommend trying to use a consistent naming structure for your files so they will be easy to find and know what they are… don’t be afraid of long names! Here’s an example of a good naming structure…


This structure breaks down four different components of an image in the name. Comics can be the main subject, funnycomics could be the name of a project, episode01 could indicate that it is the first episode of the comic, and p001 indicates the page number of the image.

Numbering with zeroes at the start of your numbering, as with 001, 002, 003 makes it so you have a consistent number of characters in your names up to page 999. I’ve found this useful in some situations where I know how many digits are going to be in the highest number page or item. It works for me, anyhow.

Use whatever structure works for you and makes sense for the image.


I use Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, Adobe Fireworks and Adobe Flash for various image editing tasks. These all cost money, unfortunately, and cartoonists don’t generally work with a big budget.

Fortunately, you can probably find free software out there if you look for it. One well-known, widely used free image editing program is GIMP. I’ve never used it, but I’ve heard good things about it.


OK… you have your images ready to post. What now?

There are a huge number of free image hosting solutions, as I mentioned in the previous chapters of this article… Flickr is a well-known and flexible one, although they require you to have more “photographic” images than drawings or other art (don’t ask me why they have this brain-dead policy, I have no idea). Posting a question about this on the Cartoonist Conspiracy or Comics Journal message boards will probably get you a lot of advice. If you are going to use an image hosting site, MAKE SURE TO READ THEIR LEGALESE before posting anything to confirm that you will retain all rights to your artwork.

Ideally, you have your own web space somewhere you can upload (FTP) files to (FTP stands for “file transfer protocol”). If you have a modern version of windows, you can type the name of the ftp site (like into the “address” box of any window and it should bring up a login for the ftp site for you to put your user name and password in. This is nice, because you can then treat the folders on your site pretty much like any other folders on your machine.

If this doesn’t work for you, there are a lot of free FTP programs out there. Filezilla is an excellent one.

Put all of the images on your site in a folder called images. You can add sub-folders with images by project or subject in your images folder as well (which I also recommend). Putting all images in your images folder will go a long way towards keeping your website files neat and orderly.


HOW TO GET YOUR COMICS ONLINE PART ONE: Advantages and Disadvantages of Putting Your Comics Online

HOW TO GET YOUR COMICS ONLINE PART TWO: Publishing Options, and the Necessity of RSS Subscriptions

Next: Presenting Yourself Online