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‘LOAC Essentials Vol. 11: Cap Stubbs and Tippie, 1945’ (review)


Written and Illustrated by Edwina Dumm
Published by IDW / The Library of American Comics
Release date 3/13/18 /$29.99

 

I’ve been a devotee of newspaper comic strips since long before I ever saw my first comic BOOK. Those flames were fanned by now-classic volumes such as Pierre Couperie’s A History of the Comic Strip (1968) and The Smithsonian Book of Newspaper Comic Strips (1977). I became a fan of many long-gone strips such as Buster Brown, Happy Hooligan, and Her Name Was Maud. I devoured each new collection of Alley Oop, Dick Tracy, and Pogo and continued to follow everything current from Smokey Stover and Spider-Man to Rose is Rose and Bloom County!

All that said, “Cap” Stubbs and Tippie, I here reluctantly admit, had always been just a name to me.

But today, of course, is a Golden Age of comic strip reprints and here at hand we have IDW’s strip-sized collection of cartoonist Edwina Dumm’s delightfully homespun “Cap” Stubbs and Tippie strip. This volume, from the Library of American Comics Essentials series, collects a long run of slightly more than a year’s strips beginning in February of 1945 and ending in April of 1946.

The first thing that jumps out at the reader unfamiliar with Cap” Stubbs and Tippie is its leisurely pacing. It’s not a rapid-fire gag a day strip like so many were. In fact, there aren’t a lot of gags at all, although there’s certainly humor. It reminds more of a daily radio serial, with its slice of life hominess that keeps you tuning in to see what your friends are up to.

The second thing that stands out is the strip’s large cast of characters, mostly relatives or friends of our titular leading man, “Cap” Stubbs, an excitable, energetic young boy of maybe 10 years. He’s concerned about things such as his pals, school, new clothes, the circus, and his grandmother, and he’s excited and proud that his Uncle is naming a diner for servicemen after him. He’s also mischievous and nosy at times and that gets him into some almost Little Orphan Annie style troubles at one point.

Sounds like a pretty full and busy strip already but we haven’t even gotten to the real star yet—Tippie!

Tippie is “Cap”’s fluffy, expressive, smallish dog—a terrier, perhaps? Tippie isn’t one of those talking comic strip dogs or one whose thoughts you can read. No, like “Cap” himself, Tippie comes across as very real, a generally silent observer and participant in any given day’s events—a member of the family. Tippie was so popular that some newspapers actually renamed the strip Tippie and “Cap” Stubbs!

A nicely informative intro by Caitlin McGurk brings the reader quickly up to speed, telling us that it ran for nearly half a century and giving us background on Ms. Dumm, a pioneering female cartoonist in a number of ways.

As you read through the book, it’s obvious that the strip is just amazingly successful at depicting what a very real, live young boy was thinking, feeling, wearing, worrying about, dreaming about. And yet it was begun by someone who could never have actually lived and remembered those feelings. Edwina Dumm was just a young girl when the strip started and a “little old lady” by the time it ended. That she could capture those sensibilities so well is impressive as all get out.

I may not have been familiar with “Cap” Stubbs and Tippie before but I am now. And I like it…and them!

Booksteve recommends

 

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