CANTEEN KATE BY MATT BAKER (Canton Street Press, First Printing, 2013; Hardcover)
Collects the Canteen Kate stories from Fightin' Marines #15 (first series) and #2-9 (second series), Anchors Andrews #1, and Canteen Kate #1, 2 (cover dates August, 1951- January, 1953)
Writer: Unknown, as creator credits were not commonplace during this era and accurate records were not kept.
Artist: Matt Baker
The story behind the artist Matt Baker is as interesting as the stories collected in this hardback book. Baker was a black comic book artist in a time when there were no black comic book artists. He may have even been the first black comic book artist. He made his name at the time drawing “good girl” art, particularly women in war comics. Baker has since passed and was very private when he was alive, so very little is known about him.
Canteen Kate is a whimsical strip, with Kate causing and sometimes solving problems in the camp, typically getting her boyfriend Private Al in trouble along the way. This is set during The Korean War and was undoubtedly popular with soldiers, as were many comic books during this era. It is formulaic but it is a charming read with brilliant artwork.
This is a fast-paced, entertaining read. It is nearly all dialogue, omitting the third party narrative prevalent in comic books of the day. It comes off closer to an early television situation comedy than it does a comic book.
This is a value priced collection with high production values. Fans of Golden Age comic books, good girl art, or those interested in the history and evolution of the medium should check this book out. I am not even a fan of war comics and I enjoyed it. You won't be sorry.
Junk Food For Thought rating: 3.5 out of 5.
The OCD zone- This book is presented in the same size as the original comic books, meaning that it is slightly wider than a modern comic book (or modern comic book collection as the case may be).
Linework and Color restoration: High resolution raw scans with the yellowing removed. This is a warts and all approach where you see the comics as they were originally printed. Ben Day dots, line bleed, off register printing...all are present for better or for worse. Some fans prefer this method of presentation to the fully restored style found in Marvel Masterworks. There are benefits and drawbacks to both methods and it is a philosophical argument that all boils down to personal preference.
Paper stock: Thick coated stock with a slight sheen.
Binding: Smyth sewn binding, lays mostly flat.
Hardback cover notes: The images are printed on the paper casewrap and have a matte coating to it which is resisting to scuffing.