New York Times: Restoring Slumberland. There’s an eerie synchronicity about reading this article at the same time as Cory Doctorow’s Themepunks serial in Salon. Peter Maresca’s painstaking restoration of Winsor McCay’s century old comic strips, which still stretch the limits of the form in both imagination and quality, and his subsequent decision to self-publish the results seems as brilliantly quixotic as the creation of garden gnomes with face-recognition for providing context-sensitive household memos.
What’s best about the new book is that it’s about a passion for something that was itself insanely passionate. No hack working in syndicated comics today could pull off anything like the imagination and brilliance of a page from this book. Unfortunately, what’s worst about the book is the infrastructure: the book’s website, sundaypressbooks.com,
is was pretty much unreachable (it’s back now).
Update: Nice post at BoingBoing citing Glenn Fleishman on the copyright issues involved: “100 years later, the public that granted the limited exclusivity of copyright gets to reap in the greater benefit of cultural heritage being shared more widely.” The ironies abound in this case. Prior to the Dover reprints that surfaced a few years ago, I’m unaware of any collections that appeared while the work was still in copyright. It’s only now that the right audience has appeared to create a work that might spark new interest in McCay’s work.