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Comics Revue #220

Comics Revue is an anthology magazine. It reprints a variety of old newspaper comic strips in all genres: fantasy/adventure, science fiction, humor and others. The age of these reprints varies. In this issue the oldest strip is Krazy Kat, from 1933, the newest one is Gasoline Alley, which was originally released in 1978.

In addition to the aforementioned, this issue reprints strips of the series Modesty Blaise, Flash Gordon, Steve Canyon, Little Orphan Annie, The Phantom, Alley Oop, Tarzan (two strips, one by Barry and Thompson, one by Russ Manning), Buz Sawyer and Casey Ruggles. Modesty Blaise dominates the magazine (the highest page count), followed by Steve Canyon and Alley Oop.

The production is uneven. Some of the strips are beautifully reproduced (Manning’s Tarzan, on the inside cover pages, is even in color), while others look like bad photocopies. I suppose that depends on the quality of the originals that the editors can get. These books are printed on good olde-fashioned newsprint. A clever choice: it’s not only fairly cheap, it also evokes a sense of the original presentation of these strips.

The strips themselves are a good cross-section of old newspaper strips. Some of them hold up quite nicely. Modesty Blaise, for example, is still an engaging read, and it is easy to see why it dominates the magazine. Others may have some nostalgia value, but are badly dated. I, for one, detest the Krazy Kat strip; I simply don’t get the jokes.

In some ways, picking up this magazine was a surprise. I had had no idea that acclaimed SF-novelist Harry Harrison used to write the Flash Gordon strip. In any case, however, they are an interesting look back in time.

At $6.95, the price per issue is a bit steep. And anthologies aren’t for everyone. You will quite probably like some of the strips and skip others. But especially nostalgia buffs will find Comics Revue worth the price of admission. And if you want to get this through your comic book store, beware: you’ll need to look in the magazine section of Previews.

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