Brew Holiday Gift Guide: Terr’ble Thompson

thompson3.jpg

The third in a series of holiday gift-giving suggestions from your pals at Cartoon Brew.

The self proclaimed “most obscure strip of the 1950s”, Gene Deitch’s daily and Sunday Real Great Adventures of TERR’BLE THOMPSON, Hero of Hist’ry has been collected in a wonderful trade paperback by Fantagraphics Books.I love Gene Deitch’s animated cartoons (especially his Terrytoons), and his print cartoons like The Cat are stylish, funny and – in the case of Terr’ble Thompson – Terrific! That’s because Thompson is the forerunner and template for Gene’s most popular cartoon creation, Tom Terrific. The obscure strip ran less than a year (from October 1955 through April 1956, while Dietch was running UPA New York, until he got the call to head Terrytoons) in no more than 14 papers. Gene himself didn’t save any of the original art. The book masterfully reprints all the original strips from digitally retouched newspaper clippings (you’d never know) and Gene recounts the entire experience in his introduction and footnotes (among the various tidbits, details of Jules Feffier’s failed attempt to become Gene’s assistant – with an example of Feffier’s try out strip; the villian, Mean Morgan, is a charicature of John Hubley; and information on the aborted Golden Record and animated pilot).Deitch’s modernist artwork and bold color design were way ahead of the curve for most comic strips of the era. The stories are great fun, and the art is eye-candy cool. Deitch’s son, Kim, and comics historian Dan Nadel contribute an informed foreword and afterword, respectively. Put it on your holiday list. For comics fans or animation fans, I think this is an absolute must.