I was real glad to see Dean Mullaney at SPX. Weird But True, Dean almost published the Arf books 15 or so years ago at his Eclipse comics company. He and DC and Marvel and Dark Horse and Fantagraphics all said they wanted to publish Arf at the time. I decided to hold off . Anyway, Dean has recently plunged into doing awesome classic comic strip reprints for IDW. I interviewed him to find out all the great details.
1. Dean, where have you been hiding all these years?
In Key West, where I own two businesses — one graphic design, the other signmaking, and the 1889 building that houses them. All built up after the demise of Eclipse Comics left me flat broke.
2. I didn’t know you had such a boner for old comic strips.
Oh, yeah. In fact, when I started Eclipse in 1977 to publish the “Sabre” graphic novel, I looked through my collection to find a format I liked, since no one had published a graphic novel for the direct market before that. I found the inspiration in Ed Aprill’s great strip books — Ed used that fantastic, heavy uncoated paper. And, of course, I devoured anything from Woody Gelman and Hyperion Press. As a kid n the 60s, Dick Tracy was my fave, running as a full tab on the front of the NY Sunday News.
3. Why did you start with Dick Tracy and Terry and the Pirates?
I wish I could take credit for Tracy, but I have nothing to do with it; the guys at IDW get all the kudos. I approached them with my imprint, The Library of American Comics, because I liked what they did with Tracy (and I’ve known Ted Adams since he was my circulation manager at Eclipse way back when). I started with Terry because . . . it’s the one strip I’d take with me to the proverbial desert island. Love the art, love the characters (ooh, Burma), but most of all, am mesmerized by the storytelling. The stories are what bring me back time and time again.
4. What one strip reprint that would probably be a complete financial disaster would you like to do if money weren’t any kind of issue?
I don’t think there’s anything you couldn’t get at least close to break even on, if you presented it well. In terms of “non-commercial” strips, probably the biggest bug up my ass is to do “White Boy” by Garrett Price. I’m only missing a handful to have a complete collection. Don’t be surprised if you see it announced in the next few months.
Annie meets Daddy
5.These Tracy and Terry reprints are so great. What’s next?
Terry 2′s at the printer, and Terry 3 and LOA 1 are in production. Next June we’ve got “Scorchy Smith and the Art of Noel Sickles,” a whopping 11″ x 11″ 352-page hardcover with the complete Sickles Scorchy for the first time, some John Terry and Bert Christman examples and a whopping 60-plus pages of Sickles’ magazine and book illustration work, wrapped around a bio by Bruce Canwell, who’s doing such a great job on the Terry essays. A tip of the old hat to Andrew Pepoy for supplying most of the strips. I’ve got a couple of other books in the contract stage. I’m in it for the long haul, Craig!
— C. Yoe (in the funny papers)