The latest book from me (with my publisher hat on) is an expansion of a book I issued and let go out of print a decade back, a collection of Miss Caroline, a gag cartoon series from 1963 about Caroline Kennedy and her place as a child in the White House. The series took an unusual path, starting as a paperback book and then going from there to newspaper syndication. The series hit the newspaper in November of 1963…. and ended later that month, when the assassination of President Kennedy made the idea a lighthearted series about his daughter unpalatable.
I had been told by folks who should know that the intent was to do new cartoons for the newspapers, but only once they had run through the cartoons that had been done for the book… and given that the strip was in papers for less than a month, they certainly didn’t have time to run through the 124 gag panels that were in the book. But I found out last year that this was wrong, that while most of the newspaper installments of “Miss Caroline” were reprints, there were actually four new panels mixed in there, once that had never been in any book.
“Miss Caroline” was written by best-selling humorist Gerald Gardner (who also worked on such TV shows as The Monkees and Get Smart and Happy Days, but no, not that Happy Days with The Fonz and Ralph Malph and Mrs. C and all, but a variety show by the same name that came and went three years before that sitcom) and drawn by Frank Johnson (who would become better known for his long run on the strip “Boner’s Ark.”) When Mr. Gardner passed away earlier this week, I realized it was time to get this project finished up and available. But I also found something cool: when the Daily Cartoonist website ran their obituary for Gardner, they include an article he wrote for the Chicago Tribune on comic strip and cartoon books… and that article included this spot illustration of Miss Caroline:
Now, while the book she’s reading at the moment is a Dennis The Menace volume, the book at her feet, the one she presumably already read and finished, is not just a Peanuts book, it’s a specific Peanuts book!
Now, I’m sure it’s not just a coincidence that the Dennis books and the mass market Peanuts books were published by the same publisher as Miss Caroline, as part of the Fawcett Crest line. And that also explains why the article also had a spot cartoons of Dennis the Menace and from Virgil Partch… and it also has, A COOL SHOT OF CHARLIE BROWN AND SNOOPY READING BOOKS! I don’t think that I, as a Peanuts books guy, have ever seen this Peanuts-and-books image before! I’m a happy AAUGH Blogger!
Miss Caroline: the Complete Camelot Collection is now available for order from Amazon… and will soon be special-orderable from your favorite independent bookstore.