It’s December. Holiday gift-giving time. Prepare for several posts in the next few weeks about new books and DVDs you must own – or give to your toon-headed loved ones. But first up, above all else, are these two:

How can you resist any book with Horace Horsecollar on the cover? How many books even have Horace Horsecollar on the cover? This one does. Walt Disney’s Mickey Mouse Vol. 2: “Trapped on Treasure Island” is the latest edition in a series of magnificently produced hard covers reprinting vintage Mickey Mouse comic strips by Floyd Gottfredson from the 1930s. Specifically from January 1932 through January 1934, this book gloriously reprints six classic continuities (The Great Orphanage Robbery, Mickey Mouse Sails For Treasure Island, Blaggard Castle, Pluto And The Dogcatcher, The Mail Pilot, Mickey Mouse And His Horse Tanglefoot and The Crazy Crime Wave), each strip restored from the best possible archival materials. Uncut, uncensored and politically incorrect – these tales are from an alternate Disney universe, where Mickey is a red-blooded, two-fisted adventurer; they are fun to read and a delight to view. Gottfredson’s comics are as classy, funny and as slick as the Disney shorts from the same period. And as usual, co-editor David Gerstein provides a plethora of “bonus materials”: galleries of rare art and merchandise, character histories, essays about scripter Ted Osborne and collaborators Webb Smith and Merrill De Maris, aided and abetted by noted Mouse historians Alberto Becattini, J.B. Kaufman and Malcom Willits – and over a half-dozen pieces are penned by Gerstein himself! A fine package, a full meal, and a perfect follow-up to volume 1, Walt Disney’s Mickey Mouse Vol. 2: “Trapped on Treasure Island” fills a gap long-neglected in animation history. Buy it.

I think I’ve been waiting for this book my entire life. I’ve always enjoyed the artistry and wit of Walt Kelly’s Pogo, but the historian in me always wanted to read the entire thing, strip by strip, from day one. At long last the complete Pogo has been compiled, lovingly, by Fantagraphics Kim Thompson and Kelly’s daughter Carolyn Kelly in the miraculous new hardcover, Pogo: The Complete Syndicated Comic Strips, Vol. 1: Through the Wild Blue Wonder. Buy this book. It wasn’t the first newspaper comic strip by an former Disney animator, but it’s the best – and the first I’d encountered to have an animators aesthetic in the layouts and character poses. This fascinated me no end as a child. Kelly’s drawings are just magnificent, and his sophisticated writing style was far ahead of its time. Its time has come – and Fantagraphics has gone out of its way to ensure the best possible copies of these rare strips were found, restored and preserved perfectly here for all time (BTW, I’m compelled to point out the reference on the cover to Ward Kimball’s band, The Firehouse Five!). The book includes all the initial dailies and Sundays (in color) from 1949-1950, the earlier NY Star run (from 1948), annotations and essays by R.C Harvey, Mark Evainer, Steve Thompson and a Foreword by legendary newspaperman Jimmy Breslin. A great gift for anyone – especially you. Amazon has it for $26.39 – a steal!

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Jerry Beck

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