Our Gang Vol. 1 Paperback – Jun 6 2006
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From Publishers Weekly
Who knew there was a comic book based on Our Gang (aka The Little Rascals), the long-running series of short films featuring those lovable urban scamps, Mickey, Buckwheat and Spanky? And by Kelly, the man responsible for Pogo, no less. This is a sweet, idiosyncratic collection of comics dating from 1942–1943. Kelly, then a young animator and fledgling comic book artist, was given the job of bringing these icons to life on the comic book page; while it took him a few issues to find his groove, he eventually rendered the gang in his own eloquent visual style. As in all of his work, Kelly's characters are gently nuanced, his lively brush strokes giving them an unvarnished realism that jibes perfectly with their cartoonish surroundings. Kelly makes the characters his own—these comics never feel like adaptations. In these issues, the gang embark on their usual adventures, including making a circus, foiling a crime caper or two and even visiting a movie set. These comics are suitable for nostalgic adults and adventurous kids alike, though Buckwheat's unfortunate but contemporary racist rendering might require some explanation. But all in all, it's an exuberant and transportive collection. (June)
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Although the Our Gang film series was on its last legs in 1942, Dell Comics launched a comic-book version of it that is more than a footnote to the films because it was written and drawn by Walt Kelly, seven years before he brought Pogo to the newspapers. Ironically, while the films were by then slick and mannered, having lost their low-budget modesty after MGM took over producing them, in Kelly's comics they regained much of their earlier, unaffected charm, thanks to his winsome story lines, homey characterizations, and engaging cartooning. The simple, unassuming tales evince little of the wit that would distinguish Pogo, yet they exert nostalgic appeal as they depict the little-kid cast publishing a neighborhood newspaper, putting on a backyard circus, tussling with the rival Gashouse Gang, and, in these World War II-era creations, holding air-raid drills, planting a victory garden, and collecting scrap for the war effort. Movie maven Leonard Maltin and Kelly biographer Steve Thompson contribute informative introductions, and Bone creator Jeff Smith supplies the Kellyesque cover. Gordon Flagg
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Top Customer Reviews
The members of the gang were inventive and mischievous poor kids growing up in everyday America. They created their own fun in an environment where they were—unlike today—given free reign to do hilarious pranks, enjoy risky adventures and practice do-good ventures. The five members of the gang were of mixed gender and race, which was progressive for the first half of the 20th century. Buckwheat (Bucky), the black boy, was accepted and on equal terms with the others. Racial stereotyping was at a minimum and amounted mostly to two areas: the appearance and the vocabulary. Kelly drew him with normal facial features but gave him the distinctive fat lip treatment. Bucky used words like ‘dis here,’ ‘ol,’ ‘halp,’ ‘looky,’ ‘winder,’(window) ‘we gets,’ and dropped the ‘g’ in ‘ing.’ But, significantly, he comes across as having intelligence fully on par with the white kids.
This was the time racial integration was gaining traction and the Bucky character and Our Gang dynamics served in some way to gather its momentum. This first book in a series of four reprints the first eight of Kelly’s Our Gang stories from 1942 and 43 of ten to fourteen pages each in color. There are nine pages of historical background and introduction. The stories are delightfully told and rendered, to be enjoyed by all ages.