Wednesday, January 06, 2016
Cool Stuff: Big Little Books!
This first volume featuring Mandrake the Magician is kind of odd to me... why go for just the silhouette of the famed magician, and not an actual picture of him? I'm guessing the earlier installments of the BLB series focused on getting the words as big as possible...
You'll notice that this next one in the gallery not only features Mandrake in his full glory, but he's also using his abilities (which, depending upon the story, could be simple hypnotism, or full-out magic, but that's a discussion for another time).
This third volume definitely has the "gesturing hypnotically" thing down, eh?
We'll definitely be jumping around a bit on this next title character... Micky Mouse was probably not as popular a subject as Donald Duck was, but he still had his fair share of volumes!
This one in particular is from towards the end of the BLB history. You can probably tell that the art was done by the same people who were doing art for the Gold Key comics by this time.
I wish this last picture was much larger, as it has one of the nicer Mickey covers! When it was reprinted, the new cover wasn't quite as fun:
This Mickey volume was likely one of the ones adapted from the newspaper strip, which was an adventure format, instead of gag-a-day! I'd guess the next one was, too!
Mickey Finn is more or less forgotten as a comic strip character these days, although his name lent itself to a slang term for a drugged drink, as in, "Slipped him a Mickey Finn," which was of course shortened to "Slipped him a Mickey."
Moon Mullins was another comic strip that was very popular back in the day, but is mostly forgotten now. In fact, if it weren't for him being included on Filmation's Archie's TV Funnies in the 70s, I might've never heard of him!
I have to admit, I've never heard of Og, Son of Fire, no matter how famous his radio adventure series was supposed to be... then again, my Old Time Radio fandom is mostly limited to comedy shows! Still, it's a caveman, and worthy to be spotlighted!
I'll bet this one comes as a surprise to many of you... I certainly had no idea that Our Gang was ever done as a BLB entry! Heck, they had at least two:
An interesting thing about the Phantom BLB books was how much of a variance there was in the color of his costume!
Apparently the early Sunday comics were colored differently at times, so this could explain the variance from the standard purple... I know in some parts of the world, his costume is definitely not colored purple, but either red or orange!
The Pink Panther came in at the tail end of the series.
Next, we have a whole mess of Popeye BLBs!
I know there were a number of other Popeye books in the series, as well... I wish someone would get the rights to reprint these in collected editions!
Radio Patrol was a pretty popular radio show, probably due to the unique addition of radios being used in squad cars, something that was new at the time!
Red Ryder had his share of BLBs... as did fellow cowboy (but less fictional) Roy Rogers!
...although this is the only one I have a pic of!
Here's a Secret Agent X-9 volume, which should tell you that King Features had no problem getting their characters into the series!
This may have been the only Shadow entry in the series... I'm guessing it didn't sell well enough to warrant further books, much less having a Doc Savage one!
Skeezix was a character from Gasoline Alley, a comic strip notable for the fact that the characters aged in real time!
As you can see, comic strip aviators Smilin' Jack and Tailspin Tommy also got the BLB treatment!
Tarzan may hold the record of being featured in more BLBs than any other character! As you can see, not all of these volumes have ERB's byline (and even those are likely adapted from the newspaper strip adaptations of the original books).
Terry and the Pirates had a fair amount of BLB volumes!
Tim Tyler's Luck was another newspaper strip, it was also made into a movie serial, if I recall correctly.
There were more Tom and Jerry BLBs than I would've expected... I didn't think they would work in the longer book format!
As you can see, the subjects of the BLBs were many and varied, although most of them tended to either be based on newspaper strips or cartoons!