While the news that Fantagraphics is to publish Barnaby might have seemingly exhausted the archives of cult favorite comic strips that need to be reprinted, it is definitely not so. Percy Crosby’s Skippy is another much-admired comic strip getting a reprint…but this one has a hell of a backstory.
Running from 1923 to 1945, Skippy was immensely popular in its day, even being adapted into a movie which won its director the Academy Award and launched child actor Jackie Cooper’s career. At the height of its popularity, Crosby was making a fortune and dating starlets. His art was lauded and familiar. But his life ended sadly, after spending 16 years in a mental institution, with broken marriages and alcoholism along the way.
Rosebud Archives, a one-year-old publisher of fine comic strip reprints and prints, is bringing back on of the most dramatic storylines in Skippy’s run, involving the Mob, Al Capone, and more — a storyline that might have been the beginning of Crosby’s troubles.
Rosebud Archives, whose stated goal is to breathe new life into the rich history of comics and graphic arts, is proud to announce a major new book to be published in January 2011: Skippy vs. The Mob: The Fight for Vesey Street and the American Soul.
This eyebrow-raising book, authorized by the Percy Crosby Estate and Skippy, Inc., will uncover a decades-long sore in the American Dream: Percy Crosby, at the height of his fame and creative abilities, and emboldened to take up the lance against injustice with the idealistic vision of America that his childhood never let him forget, took on an enemy all too real: Al Capone. Yet, where he saw his crusade in the Land of the Free – where justice triumphed – his attack on gangsterism and organized crime proved to be the beginning of the end for a talented artist and outspoken critic of the societal ills he witnessed.
Unknown to him at the time was how deep the rot went; Corporate ties to organized crime, political protection and corruption… Percy Crosby was soon to learn that those who sought to gain from a rigged system could easily have him silenced… or put away. Confined in an asylum against his will, and the protestations of the few who ever visited him, Percy Crosby remained there for the rest of his life, continuing to draw and write despite his diminishing hope for freedom.
Skippy vs. The Mob will reprint for the first time the entire sequence of comics, both as they appeared in the newspapers of the day as well as the original art. Preceding the sequence will be a comprehensive essay by Joan Crosby Tibbetts, daughter of Percy Crosby and appointed administrator of the Percy Crosby Estate, detailing the sordid history of Percy Crosby’s troubles, and the troubles she inherited and has been fighting to remedy for the past forty years. Percy Crosby’s political cartoons and writings, personal letters and documents will illustrate the spiraling saga that grew far too large for one man to handle.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.