Before becoming an animation icon made famous by Max Fleischer, Betty Boop was portrayed as a flighty movie starlet in her titular comic strip, “Betty Boop,” drawn by Bud Counihan and distributed by King Features Syndicate from 1934 to 1937. This beautiful new volume from Titan Comics collects together for the first-time ever Betty’s adventures as they appeared in the funny pages of daily newspapers and captures all the cheeky fun embodied by the classic and world-famous character. The collection also comes with an authoritative introduction by comics historian Brian Walker.
We had the pleasure of speaking with David Leach, Editor of “The Definitive Betty Boop: The Classic Comic Strip Collection, Vol. 1” about his role in getting this collection of vintage comic strips out of the archives and into the hands of Betty Boop and comics fans.
Q: Could you tell us a little about your role on the Betty Boop collection?
DL: I’m the editor of the Betty Boop collection, so as such I was responsible for sourcing the vintage comic strip – with the help of my colleague, Steve Saffel in the U.S., commissioning features, writing editorial sections, liaising with comic strip restorers, King Features and the estate of Max Fleischer, and developing the look of the finished book. Plus, I had to make my own coffee!
Q: What surprised you most about the character of Betty Boop as you were curating and editing the collection?
DL: I wasn’t surprised but I was intrigued by the 1930s world she lived in. I realise it’s heavily fictionalised but still the attitudes, the jokes, the fashions and social mores give these strips a unique quality, which makes them a fascinating record of a bygone era.
Q: What can readers expect from this collection?
DL: Only the most complete collection of Betty Boop newspaper comic strips, like EV-ER!!!! There’s stuff in this book that hasn’t been seen since it was first published way back in the 1930s! Plus, we’ve also got illustrations and promotional imagery that’s never been collected before. Wherever possible we scanned from the original newspaper strips themselves and when we couldn’t do that we scanned from the best existing material and then lovingly restored it.
The end result is the largest collection of Betty Boop comic strips ever collected in one album. It’s enough to make you go, ‘Boop-Boop-A-Doop!’
Q: What would you say makes Betty Boop timeless and relevant to today’s reader and comics fans?
DL: She’s that heady mix of naivete and coquettishness. She can come across as a little dim, but she’s as really smart as a button! These comic strips are just fun! There’s no darkness, no brooding, just an ordinary girl who got lucky and ended up living her dream. I think we can all relate to that.
Q: What is it about Betty Boop and her collection of comics that readers will love?
DL: There’s a genuine sense of fun and playfulness with Betty, as a character she’s very sassy, very confident, very flirty, she’s got her eye on becoming a movie star yet she’s just a fan girl at heart. One minute she’s negotiating with studios and lawyers, the next she’s starstruck at the sight of a famous actor. In this comic strip world, she has an aunt and a little brother to contend with, and, as the comic progresses, she seems to spend more time sorting out their japes than she does her own career!
Today, Betty Boop remains one of the most beloved and widely licensed characters in the world. What an incredible legacy!
Fans can now pre-order their copy of “The Definitive Betty Boop: The Classic Comic Strip Collection” on Amazon.com or purchase it at their local bookstore in September 2015.