Sunday, 26 June 2011

Mickey Mouse - tall and wide

With the reprint boom of classic comic strips there has been some talking among enthusiasts about cut and uncut strips from the 40's. You might know that the strips back then were drawn so that they could be published in two different formats? One tall and one wide.
Unfortunately the most common version seems to be the wide versions. At least when it comes to surviving proofs. Meaning there's not much of an option on which version to use.

But in some cases the full versions exists. Should those be used as is or trimmed down to the wide version? Especially if proofs for the tall versions are available for only a number of weeks in a run of otherwise wide strips.

I've been looking at a lot of Floyd Gottfredson stuff lately and before I give you my personal opinion I'm asking you:
If you have two sets of Mickey Mouse proofs from the period where the strips were drawn for two formats, one tall and one wide, wich one would you go for and why?
I'd like to hear your thoughts on the subject. :)

A typical Micky Mouse strip from 1943.

[For more Gottfredson click HERE. ]


Fernando Ventura said...

The first one, sure! Look at all those empty spaces on the second example! Oh, my!

Göran Semb said...

For a pure collector's edition, I might be tempted to run the fuller strips, but they're so unbalanced that that's the only case where I might be tempted.

Smurfswacker said...

I can't believe I'm saying #1, but it's true. Gottfredson obviously composed for the trimmed version. Those open spaces are awful.

Others did it the other way round...I have some 1947 George Wunder originals that were composed for the full version...the trimmed versions lose an appalling amount of information.

Anonymous said...

Well..I go for the first set as well.
I am however wondering if in other examples the tall strip wouldn't add some other info.
Say that you take ten example and in all of them there no info is lost. If that is the case there is no reason to show all that empty space in the taller strip.
(It also is a waste of space in the bookcase....)

Joakim Gunnarsson said...

Thanks for all the feedback!

In this sample I personally say: Go for the wide version! Gottfredson clearly designed the strip for that format. And while the completist in me might want all of Gottfredson's "art" in the tall version, I think the wide strip was the way he prefered it to be seen.

Things gets trickier when you jump forward. Just look at "The World of tomorrow" from 1944 where there are no "right" versions at all! Both the tall *and* the wide strip has different cuts. And often bad ones, I say. (I'll try to post a sample of that mess here later.)

And in 1945 the strips are designed to look good in the tall version, looking cropped in the wide version.

I'm not envying David G. and the FB team when it comes to deciding and restoring the mid 40's Mickey strips. :)
I wonder if there are any surviving memos from KFS from that era regarding the formats of the strips and the rules they had. Wich format was the most popular etc.

What did they go for in the new italian MM books? Wide? Tall? Or Both?

Joakim Gunnarsson said...

Regarding my comment on the 1944 "World of Tomorrow" strips: I take it back. I have looked closer.
A lot closer in fact, and what I thought was cuts in the tall versions of the strips was actually only lines that had been *added* to the wide version. So the tall version features all of Gottfredson's art. I believe. While the wide ones can be cut on top and bottom and also got re-arrangements in the panels and added art to the sides of the panels. Wadda mess...

Anonymous said...

In the new italian MM books went for the wide ones.
So tell us, why do they bother to complicate things so much?

Manuel Caldas said...

If Gottfredson, although against his will, did the strip tall, then I prefer the tall strip. I don’t like it, but I prefer things has they were done by their creators. In fact, I think it’s a mistake to publish strips when they are not complete. The correct position is to publish thing the exact way they were done by the persons who signed them. Charles Schuls and Hal Foster never liked the names of their series (they were imposed to them) but who dares to change such things?
The recent Italian Mickey Mouse edition prints some stories with the tall version and others with the wide version.

Joakim Gunnarsson said...

Manuel: Great to get a comment from one of the best restorers of vintage comics! :)

As I said the completist in me agrees with you. :)
Trouble with the Mickey strip is that I don't believe there are any sets of the full strips available anywhere. Never seen them for sale or in any collection. I don't believe Disney themselves got the complete tall strips. Even hard to find any samples on microfilm. At least it was when I searched two years ago.
I guess most papers ran the wide version making the tall one extremely hard to find in any quality.

Francoisw said...

Hi Joakim,
I am now collaborating to the French Gottfredson integral, to be published by Glénat. I'll try to have them publish the "best" version, depending on the story (and, unfortunately, on hwat is available). In any case, I'll try to let the readers know what we've done, and mention the existence of these two versions.
Do we actually know when such habit of having two versions started?

Joakim Gunnarsson said...

The earliest ones I've seen are from 1942. See this blog post:

All of the Gotfredson dailies were scanned for the Italian editions so I hope you can get yours from the same source.