Comic Review: LOAC Essentials Volume 13: Charlie Chan, 1938 (IDW Publishing)

In a new collection of the IDW series The Library of American Comics Essentials (“LOAC”), Charlie Chan’s first year is presented. Charlie Chan, a fictional Chinese sleuth, was created by […]

In a new collection of the IDW series The Library of American Comics Essentials (“LOAC”), Charlie Chan’s first year is presented.

Charlie Chan, a fictional Chinese sleuth, was created by Earl Derr Biggers in 1925. Chan was originally a secondary character in Bigger’s second novel entitled The House WIthout a Key. Years later, after the death of Bigger, Chan was brought back to newspaper audiences in a daily comic strip.

Its artist, Alfred Andriola, was an employee of cartoonist Milton Caniff when he (Andriola) applied to be the strip’s artist. And so began Andriola’s long career in comic strip art.

Charlie Chan ran in newspapers from October 1938 to May 1942, and its first year is presented here in black and white, in its entirety.

What a fun read! Older readers will recognize some of the outdated jargon, possibly made famous by the strip. No matter, it’s entertaining for today’s readers too, if you can get past the racial stereotypes. Charlie has only limited English, and tends to quote (perhaps accurately, perhaps paraphrasing) Confucious and other knowledgeable scholars. The first few weeks of strips are a bit slow going, with plenty of things happening in every strip. But soon enough, Andriola gets his bearings, and the Charlie Chan strip is an adventure to be relished.

This volume consists of several stories. The book is horizontal in format, with one strip per page. So it measures 11.5” x 4.25”.
The strips are minimally restored, making them certainly legible, but they appear to be reproduced from printed material rather than from proofs or original art.

The gangsters are plentiful, the locales are exotic, the gals are in trouble, and Chan and his companions are off to the rescue. Freeing the kidnapped, retrieving jewels and solving complex mysteries.

Introduction by Associate Editor Bruce Canwell, edited and designed by Dean Mullaney.

IDW, Library of American Comics Essentials Vol 13, $29.99 for 352 pages, Hardcover, Presume Teen rating for guns and violence

Alan Spinney

About Alan Spinney

After a career of graphic design, art direction and copywriting, I still have a passion for words and pictures. I love it when a comic book comes together; the story is tight, and the drawings lead me forward. Art with words... the toughest storytelling technique to get right. Was this comic book worth your money? Let's see!!