Better known as the creator of Harold and the Purple Crayon, Crockett Johnson's first triumph was a thoughtful, wryly observant newspaper strip starring five-year-old Barnaby Baxter and his cigar-chomping fairy godfather J.J. O'Malley. Barnaby ran from 1942 to 52, bridging the gap between Krazy Kat and the later Pogo and Peanuts with its deft balance of fantasy, political commentary, sophisticated wit, and elegantly spare images. Cartoonist Daniel Clowes, a huge Barnaby fan, designed this superb anthology series, each volume collecting two years of the complete run.
Here we meet that bright young cub Barnaby Baxter and his stalwart companion, the pink-winged Jackeen J. O'Malley. Part fairy godfather, part con artist, his occasional magic is more likely to wreak havoc than anything else, though he is often aided and abetted by his fellow members in the Elves, Leprechauns, Gnomes, and Little Men's Chowder & Marching Society.