Continuing the run of publishers announcing more deluxe classic comic strip reprints, NBM has announced a reprint series called FOREVER NUTS, spotlighting the oddball early years of the American comic strip. Up first, just in time for its 100th birthday, Bud Fisher’s MUTT AND JEFF.
The year 2007 is the hundredth anniversary of Mutt & Jeff, one of the longest-lasting and most popular comic strips. It’s also the 30th anniversary of NBM Publishing and a perfect time to reprint the strip as the first of a planned new series of deluxe-format reprints, FOREVER NUTS: Classic Screwball Strips — The Early Years of Mutt & Jeff reveals that the pioneering strip was odder, crazier, and funnier than most modern readers would expect.
FOREVER NUTS is a new series of reprints concentrating on very early, very goofy strips — early classics that have aged surprisingly well, with off-the-wall humor that remains fresh to this day. Each volume will present a different strip from the early 20th century.
Mutt & Jeff began as A. Mutt (the A stood for Augustus), a cartoon about a harried husband who escaped his wife by gambling at the racetrack. The brainchild of cartoonist Bud Fisher first appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle’s sports page on November 15, 1907. The strip’s popularity skyrocketed after March 27, 1908, when Mutt met Jeff. A pint-sized insane asylum inmate, Jeff insisted that he was boxing champion James Jeffries. The combination of Mutt (who was always trying to get rich and always failing) with Jeff (gullible and willing to try anything) became a sensation.
Mutt & Jeff was (and is):
• The first truly popular and successful daily newspaper strip.
• The first strip to establish the Monday-through-Saturday schedule
that daily strips follow today.
• The first ongoing strip to produce political sequences (when Jeff
ran for President in 1908).
• The first comic strip adapted into a successful series of animated
• The first strip to make its creator rich and famous.
• One of the first strips to become part of the English language (for
decades, people nicknamed any pairing of a tall man and a short man
“Mutt and Jeff”).
• One of the first strips to launch a flood of merchandising.
• One of the first strips to appear in comic books (it appeared on the
cover of Famous Funnies #1 in 1933) and one of the longest-lasting (the
characters appeared regularly in comic books from 1939 to 1965).
• One of the longest running strips of all time (currently distributed
by Universal Press Syndicate).
Comic-strip expert Jeffrey Lindenblatt is the editor of the FOREVER NUTS books. For more than 15 years, Mr. Lindenblatt has been reprinting classic comic strips in his magazines The Missing Years (featuring comics that have not been reprinted in decades) and Strip Adventure. Mr. Lindenblatt has appeared on the comics radio series ‘Nuff Said!, and he has led the Research Committee at the Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art, a society devoted to the collection, preservation, study, education, and display of comic and cartoon art.
Comics historian Allen Holtz of the website Stripper’s Guide provides the book’s introduction. The designer of The Early Years of Mutt & Jeff and other books in the FOREVER NUTS series is J.P. Trostle, a winner of design and illustration awards from the Pennsylvania and North Carolina Press Associations. NBM readers know his work from books such as Attitude: The New Subversive Political Cartoonists.
NBM is no stranger to great comic-strip reprints. The company was the first publisher to issue series of books reprinting complete runs of comic-strip classics, starting with Milton Caniff’s Terry and the Pirates in 1983. FOREVER NUTS: Classic Screwball Strips is a highlight of NBM’s 30th anniversary celebration, which lasts from September 2006 through September 2007.
The Early Years of Mutt & Jeff, which NBM will ship to stores in May, is an 8” by 6” jacketed hardcover with 192 pages of black-and-white art. The cover price is $24.95; the ISBN is 978-1-56163-502-3.