Mr. Twee Deedle: Raggedy Ann's Sprightly Cousin: The Forgotten Fantasy Masterpiece of Johnny Gruelle
The title character in the Sunday color page, Mr. Twee Deedle, is a magical wood sprite who befriends the strip’s two human children, Dickie and Dolly. Gruelle depicted a charming, fantastical child’s world, filled with light whimsy and outlandish surrealism. The artwork is among the most stunning ever to grace an American newspaper page, and Gruelle’s painterly color makes every page look like it was created on a canvas.
Gruelle’s creation was the winning entry out of 1500 submissions to succeed Little Nemo, which the New York Herald was losing at the time to the rival Hearst papers. With such import, the Herald added a $2000 prize, a long contract, and arguably the most care devoted to the reproduction of any color newspaper comic strip before or since.
Yet the wood sprite and his fanciful world have been strangely overlooked, partly because Gruelle created Raggedy Ann immediately after the strip’s run, eclipsing not only Mr. Twee Deedle but almost everything else the cartoonist ever did.
Mr. Twee Deedle stands as a bizarre time-warp: at a time when most children's literature and kids' comic strips were somewhat violent or starkly moralistic (the Brothers Grimm; The Katzenjammer Kids; and even Little Nemo itself, which often depicted nightmares, fears, and dangers), Twee Deedle was sensitive and whimsical. Instead of stark moralizing, it presented gentle lessons. It reads today like a work for the 21st century… indeed for all times, all ages.
Mr. Twee Deedle is edited and includes an introduction by comics historian Rick Marschall. The volume will present the first year of the forgotten masterpiece and selected episodes from later years, as well as special drawings, promotional material, and related artwork.
Johnny Gruelle / Rick Marschall (editor)
14 x 18
hardcover, full color
July 4, 2012
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