"Tom and Ed" - A golden age newspaper comic you've never read.

PeterAndCompanyPeterAndCompany Registered User regular
edited March 2012 in Artist's Corner
Note: This thread features a series of comic strips that are NOT my own original work. Rather, this is the work of an artist who has long since passed away. I have been asked by his family to restore these comics to their original quality, so I am posting this thread to both share the restoration process and also ask for help/advice with getting it all done. Also, it's my hope that this will help bring the story of this artist and his work to the audience he was denied almost a century ago.

This is a piece of comic history that fell into my lap recently. "Tom and Ed," a serialized plot-driven comic strip by Al Ryan, was drawn and submitted to syndicates in 1924. It was rejected because the artist was only 16 years old at the time. The comic itself is like a blend between Dick Tracy and the Hardy Boys, and definitely reflective of the art and writing styles of the time.

After being rejected, these comics were placed into a box and stored away in Al Ryan's attic for over 80 years. Al passed away in 1983. His surviving family only just recently stumbled across the box and found the originals. Some were still pristine, while others were somewhat weather-damaged, but all of them are perfectly readable. Since this family has known my family since before I was born, they have asked me to take care of the comics and restore them to how they looked when they were drawn.

The most significant aspect of this is the fact that you never see the rejected comics from this time period. To put things in perspective, the year these strips were drawn, Little Orphan Annie made her comic strip debut. Other comics that were born in the early 20's include Popeye, Buck Rogers, Felix the Cat, Tarzan, and Barney Google & Snuffy Smith. "Tom and Ed" has all of the elements in place to make it a classic, but it was never given a chance by the editors of the time. To be able to see one of the rejects, one of the thousands of ideas that don't get published just because someone in an office said "No"... it's almost mind-blowing.

Today I finally was given the box of comics from his family members. Each strip is drawn on a large sheet of bristol board, roughly 24" wide, and inked with a crowquill pen. The story told is the first main portion of what would have been a main plot point, but sadly there are a few missing strips (the family thinks there were originally 24 comics in the set, but a few were lost over the years).

Here are the first photos of the entire set. I will be scanning each of these in individually and restoring them, both digitally and traditionally if need be. I will be eventually setting up a blog-style website now that I have the strip's title, which will give a biographical account of the artist and chronicling the entire process. If anyone would like to assist in the process or give advice on how I should approach it, please let me know on here or drop me an e-mail at PeterAndCompany *AT* gmail.com.


I'll be scanning each comic and posting them as the week progresses.

PeterAndCompany on


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    Linespider5Linespider5 ALL HAIL KING KILLMONGER Registered User regular
    Interesting. I look forward to seeing your progress!

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    m3nacem3nace Registered User regular
    Looks neat. Can't wait to see this unfold.

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    squidbunnysquidbunny Registered User regular
    edited March 2012
    Yeah, those look great. Really excited to see this move forward/read some of them.

    I dunno what kind of assistance you're looking for but let me know if there's anything I can help with -- this is a rad undertaking.

    squidbunny on
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    amateurhouramateurhour One day I'll be professionalhour The woods somewhere in TennesseeRegistered User regular
    "Tom Monahan, red blooded young American college athlete... nuff sed"

    That's fantastic. This is honestly a pretty awesome historical look at the past and I'm really excited to see these as they're cleaned up.

    You're doing a good thing PaC

    are YOU on the beer list?
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    PeterAndCompanyPeterAndCompany Registered User regular
    Thanks, everyone. I wanted to make some time today to start really cranking through the scanning, but I didn't have a chance yet. I did, however, manage to get some preliminary work done.

    Got the first strip scanned in. You can't really tell from the photographs since I didn't offer any size comparison, but these individual strips are HUGE. Each sheet is 30" wide and inked completely with a crowquill pen. Plus, these were all drawn when he was 16, which makes it all the more impressive. I remember what I was drawing at 16 and it looked nothing like this.


    I am going to scan in all 21 comics over the course of this week. I have to do each one in three parts just to fit them on my scanner. I tried scanning this first one in as a black & white bitmap to see if I could get past the water damage on the page, but it still showed up. So I'm definitely going to have to do some reconstruction work in Photoshop on these first few strips.

    Also, I got the new site URL registered and a splash page put in for the time being. I'm hoping to have the blog up and running by this weekend with the first few posts. I'll update it along with this thread to keep everyone in the loop who's interested. :)

    Here's the site: TomAndEdComic.com

    I'll get the next set of strips scanned in tomorrow and post them here. I have a free evening ahead of me and plan to make some headway.

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    lizard eats flieslizard eats flies Registered User regular
    This is so cool. I'm so excited to see the progress.

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    NightDragonNightDragon 6th Grade Username Registered User regular
    That damage never seems to get anywhere near as dark as the ink itself, which is great. You should be able to keep all those ink lines intact!

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    NibCromNibCrom Registered User regular
    Really neat project, Peter.

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    PeterAndCompanyPeterAndCompany Registered User regular
    I actually miscounted the total number of comics in the collection. Originally I had stated there was 21 comics, but the introduction strip and the last strip aren't numbered, so technically there's 23.

    Anywho, here are the next three strips, scanned in and unedited. The story begins...




    As I said, each of the comics are numbered from this point out. I'm including the pencil number mark in the corner of each scan, too.

    Also, I put together a Youtube video detailing the project and showing a few of the comics. Just to give you all an idea of the sheer scale of these things. Please pass this video around on Facebook/Twitter/etc. to promote the project! :)


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    SeveredHeadSeveredHead Registered User regular
    this is pretty interesting stuff, its funny how they reference bananas as being something so awesome and exotic.

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    PeterAndCompanyPeterAndCompany Registered User regular
    edited March 2012
    Sorry for the delay in getting more of these scanned in and posted! I have a Kickstarter campaign starting up in the next 24 hours and all my time's been spent prepping for it.

    Here are the next seven strips. There's a bit of dialogue that is definitely of the, how to say, "it was a different time" variety.








    That "WOW!!" just cracks me up, haha. More to come very soon.

    PeterAndCompany on
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