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.