Frank Johnson, Secret Pioneer of American Comics Vol. 1


634 p. – full colour – 17,5 x 23 cm – softcover.
Fantagraphics – 2024 – ISBN 9781683968993

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Frank Johnson, Secret Pioneer of American Comics Vol. 1: Wally’s Gang Early Years (1928-1949) and The Bowser Boys (1946-1950)

When Frank Johnson, an itinerant musician and shipping clerk, died in 1979, he left behind a startling discovery: more than 2,300 notebook pages of comics and 131 unbound drawings, among them a massive, continuous story line beginning in the earliest surviving notebook dated 1928 — before the existence of comic books! — and following the exploits of his own cast of characters across 50 years until Johnson passed away. In the course of this lifelong project, Johnson invented in private many of the conventions and tropes that define comics storytelling, effectively enacting an alternative secret history of the comics medium.

This collection is the first ever publication of Johnson’s work and includes: Wally’s Gang, his 50-year magnum opus chronicling the humorous, cliff-hanging adventures of a group of bachelor friends; The Bowser Boys, a seamy, darkly slapstick depiction of bohemian street life that could be considered the first underground comic series; and Juke Boys, absurd, self-reflexive graphic experimentation.