No Reprint Love for Outcault?

By | Tuesday, June 14, 2022 2 comments
I've heard it said more than once in recent years that we're in a Golden Age of comic reprints. There are several publishers these days doing higher-end books reprinting many classic comics, both books and strips. There gorgeous hard cover collections of Little Nemo, Krazy Kat, Peanuts, Calvin & Hobbes, Steve Canyon... IDW has been doing some great work with their Artist's Edition series reprinting the original art from classic comic runs by Jack Kirby, John Byrne, Walt Simonson, Frank Miller...

But it just occurred to me that we really don't have anything focusing on Richard Outcault. He created both The Yellow Kid as well as Buster Brown, and while neither had quite the longevity of some other comics, and argueably don't have the historical pedigree that is sometimes touted, their popularity at the time of publication make them both note-worthy. Superman wasn't Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster's first character, after all, nor was it their first published comics work. But the character's broad and rapid popularity make it a subject of great study. So, too, are the Yellow Kid and Buster Brown. But, strangely, there's relatively little about them.

The Yellow Kid has been written about extensively, certainly, and most of those pieces seem to include a number of reprints, but I don't see where anyone's really try to put togther a single Yellow Kid reprint collection. And while Buster Brown seems to have gotten the reprint treatment more than a few times over the decades, they seem decidedly finite in nature. This collection from 2009, for example, is only 60 pages long and this one from 2012 is only 76. Hardly a good representation of the nearly two decades of strips.

Does it have something to do with a rights issue? I can't imagine it would since copyrights for anything prior to 1923 have expired. (Buster Brown ceased publication in 1921.) Access to materials? I'm sure the original art is no longer around, but that hardly stopped any of the other publications.

So what's the deal, publishers? No one willing to take on Outcault's work? Seems to me there's a decent audience for this out there. What's holding you back?
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Nik said...

This book from 1995 is nearly 300 pages of Yellow Kid strips and a good place to start - frankly his material while historically important has dated a lot compare to say Winsor McCay:

Oh, nice! Thanks, Nik -- I hadn't seen/heard of that book. Presumably because it's out of print, but still worth taking a look at, I think, as you say for the strip's historical importance.