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Rip Kirby Volume 1 Hardcover – Dec 1 2009
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This new reprint by IDW seems to be the definite one taken from the "best available proofs" of the strip. Actually, if these are the best proofs IDW had on hand, I wonder where the French, Spanish and Italian versions got their proofs from as they are ten times better than the American proofs. It's a pity that no major restoration was done to the strip as this version by IDW pales by comparison to the European versions. The main problem I see with the IDW books (aside of the average quality of reprinting), is that the strips are reprinted too small and the books are too heavy. Can anyone tell me how to read these books, aside of putting them on top of a table?
All in all, I've got mixed feelings about the book, but this being the only worthwhile version available in English, will have to do.
p.s.: For the collectors out there, try to check the French version published in the 90's (alas only one volume was printed) as the art is so crisp and clean, it makes all other versions pale by comparison.
The artwork is wonderful and well reproduced - as well reproduced as it can be at this stage without major "restoration". Fortunately, very little seems to need anything so drastic. Curiously, there is an abrupt change in style towards the end of Chapter 7 "Bleak Prospects" and the beginning of Chapter 8 "Terror on the Thames" almost as if Raymond was spelled by an assistant while on vacation.
The stories are for the most part solid. The first two chapters are written as classic "whodunits" but that formula does not work particularly well in daily strip format and the remaining stories are straightforward crime dramas.
Characterization is also strong. Kirby and Desmond are likable and interesting while the villains are just great - ruthless and deadly. The only weak point is Kirby's girl friend Honey Dorian. She seems completely bland when compared to her competition, the mesmerizing Pagan Lee.
All in all, highly recommended to comic strip enthusiasts of all ages.
IDW, with extraordinary editions of "Terry and the Pirates" or "Scorchy Smith", has lost a great opportunity for make the best edition of this classic. Where are the pristine syndicate proofs? In my country, Spain, we have a better edition, with all the Raymond's work and the beginnig of Prentice. The definition of the strips is sometimes horrible. Please, WHERE ARE THE BEST POSSIBLE SOURCES? I don't understand. Sorry
I have to say that this problem is solved in following volumes, so the american collection would clearly be the way to go then. The spanish volumes are printed darker, not a problem in itself, but it is adding the too small size, when compared to the good-looking american volumes.
Alex Raymond was one of the finest practitioners of the lost art of newspaper serial storytelling. His illustrations of handsome men, beautiful women and amazing settings are one of the reasons the period between 1935 and 1960 are considered by some as the Golden Age of newspaper serials.
I cannot express how pleased I am that IDG Publications has taken the time and effort to produce his amazing illustrator's work. This book along with Tom Roberts' ALEX RAYMOND: His Life and Art (ISBN: 9781886937789) are a must have for everyone who enjoys experiencing great art from a time when men like Mr. Raymond elevated the art of newspaper serials to high-art.
Get your copy today.