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 Many of you are familiar with Don Markstein's Toonopedia, the great archive of comic-book and comic-strip characters www.toonopedia.com/ Now Paul Di Filippo pgdf  directs me to this amazing collection, the Barnacle Press (www.barnaclepress.com/ ) where you can browse a vast number of comic strips from the first age of the strip -- all of the ones I looked at dated from before 1920, and some go back to the turn of the century.  Just look at Bill and Budd, the Bird Boys, on their way to the moon in their stolen "Flying Fish" airship:  www.barnaclepress.com/cmcvlt/BirdBoys/bb091017.jpg 

This made me think  -- Ed Park  collected a large number of books that contain descriptions or accounts of, or excerpts from, imaginary books in The Invisible Library (invislib.blogspot.com/.) Can anyone think of books that contain either imaginary comic strips or imaginary comic books?  There's Cavalier and Klay, of course, and of course many graphic novels and strips are about artists who draw strips.  But other novels in which imagined comix appear as part of the texture?


( 26 comments — Leave a comment )
Oct. 16th, 2009 07:30 pm (UTC)
There was Steven Millhauser's "The Little Kingdom of J. Franklin Payne," which was based largely on Winsor McKay, it seems to me.

There was also Derby Dugan's Depression Funnies, written by Tom De Haven, too. I'm afraid I have not read the book, yet, so I can't comment much on it.
Oct. 17th, 2009 07:30 am (UTC)
Steven Millhauser wrote a novel about a precocious comics artist from the perspective of his schoolboy Boswell, Edwin Mullhouse: The Life and Death of an American Writer, 1943-1954, by Jeffrey Cartwright.

Oct. 23rd, 2009 11:54 pm (UTC)

Derby Dugan's fictitious strip was a conservative-themed adventure strip loosely based on Little Orphan Annie. The interesting thing is that Art Spiegelman provided a sample of the strip as a frontispiece.

City of Saints and Madmen by Jeff VanderMeer references Hellatose and Bauble by the Ambergrisian cartoonist M. Kodfan. The book includes an illustration, but unfortunately not a complete strip.

Oct. 16th, 2009 07:35 pm (UTC)
Pretty sure Philip K. Dick's "The Zap Gun" has some fictitious comics - but it's been almost 20 years since I read it so I'm a *little* vague on the details.
Oct. 16th, 2009 07:40 pm (UTC)
Ah, I found an excerpt from The Zap Gun - this is apparently a battery-powered 3D comic:

Before him lay the October 2003 copy of the uncivilized comic book, The Blue Cephalopod Man From Titan. At the moment, his lips moving, he examined the entertaining adventure, The Blue Cephalopod Man Meets the Fiendish Dirt-Thing That Bored to the Surface of Io After Two Billion Years Asleep in the Depths! He had reached the frame where the Blue Cephalopod Man, roused to consciousness by his sidekick's frantic telepathic efforts, had managed to convert the radiation-detecting portable G-system into a Cathode-Magnetic Ionizing Bi-polar Emanator.

With this Emanator, the Blue Cephalopod Man threatened the Fiendish Dirt-Thing as it attempted to carry off Miss Whitecotton, the mammate girlfriend of the Blue Man. It had succeeded in unfastening Miss Whitecotton's blouse so that one breast - and only one; that was International Law, the ruling applying severely to children's reading material - was exposed to the flickering light of Io's sky. It pulsed warmly, wiggled as Pete squeezed the wiggling-trigger. And the nipple dialated like a tiny pink lightbulb, upraised in 3-D and winking on and off, on and off ... and would continue to do so until the five-year battery-plate contained within the back cover of the mag at last gave out.

Tinnily, in sequence, as Pete stroked the aud tab, the adversaries of the adventure spoke.
Oct. 16th, 2009 08:09 pm (UTC)
Take that, Margaret Atwood! (Who doesn't write about talking squids.)
Oct. 16th, 2009 08:49 pm (UTC)
Watchmen, itself a graphic novel of course, contains excerpts from fictitious comic 'Tales of the Black Freighter', a pirate-themed comic - Moore's reasoning was apparently that, faced with real-life (and rather unpopular) superheroes, people would want to read something else for escapism.
Oct. 17th, 2009 02:16 am (UTC)
Would that be the black freighter that appears in the English version of Pirate Jenny? The one that has eight sails and fifty cannons in German?
Oct. 17th, 2009 02:18 am (UTC)
It's inspired by it, anyway :)
Oct. 16th, 2009 09:14 pm (UTC)
Dylan Horrocks' "Hicksville" imagine a small town where "sheep-farmers and fishermen argue the relative merits of early newspaper strips, while in the local bookshop and lending library obscure Mongolian minicomics share the shelves with a complete run of Action Comics." It's ostensibly about a comics journalist researching a biography for a Stan Lee figure, and frequently drops into embedded indie comics as well as pages from the imaginary "Captain Tomorrow" superhero comic. And cartography. Magical stuff.


--Ivan Towlson
Oct. 16th, 2009 11:24 pm (UTC)
Well, there's The Tenth Circle by Jodi Picoult. One of the characters writes and draws a comic, and pages appear throughout the story, sort of reinforcing the themes of the main plot.
Oct. 17th, 2009 01:44 am (UTC)
Tijuana Bibles
Lest we forget, the "Eight page (or Tijuana) Bible," provided essential xxx counterpoint at every step of the toonway.
Oct. 23rd, 2009 02:53 am (UTC)
Picoult herself did a guest-stint on Wonder Woman about three years ago, so I'm not surprised she's a comics fan. I wonder if there are fake comics in any of Brad Meltzer's bestsellers.

I'm sure Stephen King has comics in some of his novels, but given King's technique of using real brands to cement his characters into the real world, I kinda doubt they'd be fake comics.
Oct. 17th, 2009 03:36 am (UTC)
This! Hicksville, Hicksville, Hicksville. Mr. Crowley, I will totally buy and mail you a copy if that would get you to read it, rather than creeping you out.
Oct. 17th, 2009 08:44 pm (UTC)
I'd totally chip in for that *grin*. --Ivan
Oct. 17th, 2009 05:13 am (UTC)
The title character of Susan Daitch's novel The Colorist is a comic book colorist and the comic book she works on is vital to the book. And it is a very good book.
Dec. 17th, 2009 07:29 pm (UTC)
Thanks, Chip!

Oct. 17th, 2009 08:23 am (UTC)
A recent example - Limbo in Jack O'Connell's The Resurrectionist:
It's just out in paperback.

Patrik Nilsson
Oct. 17th, 2009 11:13 am (UTC)
Johnny The Homicidal Maniac (by Jhonen Vasquez) draws a strip called Happy Noodle Boy within his own comic strip & sometimes discusses his creative process or comics he's working on.
Oct. 17th, 2009 11:51 pm (UTC)
this is a common device in manga
and there is currently a manga - bakuman - that tells the story of 2 high school students who break into the manga world. The whole story revolves around the imaginary mangas that the students and their peers create and how they suceed or fail. The real manga - bakuman - appears in Shonen Jump. The fictional characters start writing for Shonen Jump and the manga they create appears in the fictional shonen jump that is portrayed in the real pages of Shonen Jump.

....and the cat riddled with worms chases his tail.....
Oct. 18th, 2009 12:56 am (UTC)
Seth's WIMBLEDON GREEN: THE GREATEST COMIC BOOK COLLECTOR IN THE WORLD practically has as its raison d'être the creation of imaginary (invisible) comic book titles—it's great fun. And his IT'S A GOOD LIFE, IF YOU DON'T WEAKEN also plays with invisibility, though in a more serious register...

Oct. 19th, 2009 06:35 am (UTC)
A character in the comic strip FoxTrot draws a comic strip called The Adventures of Slug Man and Leech Boy.
Oct. 19th, 2009 05:14 pm (UTC)
Comic strips-within-strips
Al Capp had at least two in Li'l' Abner: "Fearless Fosdick" and "Sawdust," both parodies of other strips.
Oct. 20th, 2009 03:58 pm (UTC)
A friend who's an actual librarian recently sent me an e-mail on this very topic, noting some invisible comic strips that appear in early numbers of "Popeye."

He writes, "In the Thimble Theatre comic strip of July 9, 1933, Popeye is invited to invest his 5 million dollars in The Daily Blast newspaper, daily circulation 50,676,243. Soon he manages to have his sweetie Olive Oyl's picture run in the paper, which appears on the funny page along with the comic strips 'Pip the Gyp,' 'Zip the Dip,' and 'Boop the Doop,' [and a couple of others: '(something unrevealed) the Flop,' '(something unrevealed) Sad'] on July 22, 1933.

The next day he receives the a mysterious box that winds up containing (the introduction of) Swee'Pea!"
Oct. 22nd, 2009 11:07 am (UTC)
...then of course there's the sci-fi comic that Pierce remembers reading as a boy in the Aegypt books (I think as an adult he still has a compilation of it on his shelves that he pulls out in Deamonomania)...
Nov. 3rd, 2009 05:43 pm (UTC)
j. robert lennon
There's J. Robert Lennon's "The Funnies," about the disgruntled family of a cartoonist who does a "Family Circus"-ish strip.
Tom deHaven's "Derby Dugan..." has been mentioned, but not sure if anyone's clarified that it's part of a trilogy, in which one strip character morphs over the ages...first as a Yellow Kid-style wiseacre (in "Funny Papers"...or maybe it's "Funny Pages"?...been a while and I'm too lazy to google it), then, as mentioned, an Orphan Annie-ian hero in "...Depression Funnies," and finally as a Crumb/Deitch/etc. '60s comix icon in "Dugan Under Ground." Would love to see DeHaven pick up the thread with a navel-gazing autobiographical '90s alt-comics variation. :)
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