The latest book from my publishing imprint is a reworked reprint of a long-lost piece of the Cold War, filled with some of the greatest cartoonists of the 1950s. President Eisenhower had launched his pet project, The People-to-People Program, to better connect Americans with the rest of the world. It was made of a bunch of professional committees… including the Cartoonists Committee, headed by Li’l Abner creator Al Capp. This group took as their first project trying to fight the poor image of American tourists that some were promoting overseas, and they did it via You Don’t See These Sights on the Regular Tours. This book had single-panel gag cartoons by some of the biggest names in newspaper cartooning of the time, including not just Capp, but Schulz, Ketcham, Caniff, Browne, Goldberg, Soglow, Walker, and more… 21 in all. All of the cartoons gave examples of Americans acting bad overseas. Matched with each of these was a headshot of one of the cartoonist’s famous characters, explaining how what was being shown was something that Americans don’t really do that, and that you in particular shouldn’t.
Those headshots proved a problem for the reprint project. Getting the rights to use all those famous characters would be beyond my little publishing house for this little reprint project. So instead, I got creative. What if instead of each cartoon being narrated by the cartoonist’s character, they were all narrated by a single emcee, perhaps someone particularly patriotic. And lucky me, a couple decades back I co-created just such a character… the red-white-and-blue superdude Mister U.S., a faux World War II-era costumed hero.
In order to meld this narration in with the existing material, I hired on Scott Roberts, who some of you may know from his indy comic Pattycake, but it was his work on “Working Daze” that really showed me he could ape the style of all of the artists in the original volume. He did pastiches of all of the artists drawing Mister U.S.
There was one further complication – Walt Kelly had used his famous Pogo characters not just in the narration, but in the gag cartoon itself. Unfortunately, that fine piece had to be cut, but Scott drew a replacement gag on the same theme. So what we ended up with is a bit of history, mixed with a bit of faux history.
Now I know what you’re thinking… I’m going to try to get you to buy the book just to get the one Schulz gag panel. But no, I’m far more generous than that… I’m giving you the Schulz cartoon, and its matching Scott Roberts Mister U.S. head, taking the place of everyone’s favorite blockhead.
So that taken care of…. if you want You Don’t See These Sites on the Regular Tours: Mister U.S. Edition, you can order it now for immediate shipping from the US branch of Amazon.