King Aroo

Out today in comic shops is this latest entry in IDW’s Library of American Comics series. King Aroo Volume 1 collects comic strips from 1950-1952.

Sergio Aragones, in his brief introduction, compares to the strip to Krazy Kat, Pogo, and Polly and Her Pals because all were “gentle, loving, modern, and done with caring”. It’s a surprising set of comparisons, but they’re all accurate. And inspirations for artist Jack Kent, who started as a comic strip fan, collecting original art and sketches.

King Aroo cover
King Aroo
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The adorable King Aroo rules the tiny principality of Myopia, where animals talk and kangaroos deliver the mail. He has one person in his retinue, Yupyop, who is “the Lord High Myopian Everything”. The cute characters in a whimsical world are reminiscent of Pogo, with a similar love of wordplay and elaborate language, providing both visual and verbal humor. It’s an imaginative strip, with stories that meander creatively through fairytale expectations, like magical transformations or lovely princesses.

The Sunday strips are collected separately from the dailies, since they ran separate storylines in that era, and they aren’t in color. The reproduction, as much as I could tell with an online copy, seems excellent, since they had access to syndicate proofs and Jack Kent’s personal estate material. There’s over 300 pages of the cute little king here!

As with other books in this series, the volume opens with a substantial essay about the strip’s creator. It’s accompanied by early work by him, childhood sketches and the like, and promotional material from the syndicate for the strip. Unfortunately, it leaves off on a cliffhanger (a rather unusual approach for a biographical essay), promising to answer the reader’s questions in the upcoming volume two.

Here’s an interview with Bruce Canwell, who wrote the essay, and some strip samples. (The publisher provided a PDF for review.)

One Response to “King Aroo”

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