Wally Wood created the Cannon spy adventure strip for the Army's Overseas Weekly newspaper. Since people in the army were adults, he could draw a strip containing adult elements (that is to say, naked chicks) and not worry about the censorship that plagued comic books and newspaper comic strips back in the day. So Cannon did things that made James Bond look like a sissy, and was the toughest MF the commies ever ran into (remember, this was done during the cold war years, when the greatest threat America had, was communism). For the first months Woody really outdid himself, as it features some of his best artwork ever. By the end of the strip's run though, Woody relies mostly on paste-up jobs (sometimes of his own work), and very contrasted photocopies of cars and buildings that look like an inked drawing. Towards the end, you can see that his heart wasn't really into it anymore.
The sad thing, for most of us Woody fans, was that to see this particular work you had to be in the army, as there was no other way of seeing it. Luckily for me I lived in France back then, and Woody's work was being reprinted over there thanks to Fershid Bharucha who was a big fan of some American comic book artists (such as Woody, Corben and Berni Wrightson), and published most of their work in Europe (well, at least in France). So I actually knew Cannon and Sally Forth before many other American comic book fans did. That said, when Cannon was finally collected for the first time as a softcover book by Fantagraphics, it was in its original black and white (in France it was colored) and in a rather large size (10,5 x 13').
That was not too long ago, as the book came out in 2001. Now, Fantagraphics announce the book again, as a hardcover this time, and being "the biggest collection of Cannon, ever" (those are Fantagraphics' words, by the way). I don't know what they mean by "biggest", as the strips have the same wide format as the previous book, only this time instead of publishing it as a portrait (or vertical) format consisting of four rows of strips or panels per page (as it appeared in the army newspaper), they've printed each page with only two rows of panels (or cut down each page in half, if you prefer). While this isn't necessarily a problem, if Woody had kept drawing four rows of panels per page, it does present a problem with a particular page, which would be strip number 94 of the original format (and pages 188-89 in this book). For this page, Woody outdid himself and drew a big vertical panel covering three quarters of the left-side of the page. I remember this particular page, because it features a huge drawing of a naked girl talking on the phone. As each page is cut in half, it means that this panel had to be chopped as well, which Fantagraphics does almost unapologetically, offering us instead a stamp-sized image of what the page looked like in it's original format. Call this what you may, but to me it's a form of censorship (though I know they didn't do it for those reasons). The thing is that you should choose a format to publish your book accordingly. What is the purpose of printing the Mona Lisa in a landscape format, if you have to leave out two-thirds of the image because it doesn't quite fit the format? Of course, Fantagraphics is going to say it's only a panel, so who cares? Well I do!
Also included, though printed very small, are the two Cannon stories Woody did for the proposed Heroes Inc comic books which apparently were never sold in newsstands, though I managed to get a copy of the first issue, that I believe was the only of the two issues ever published!
That said, the only reason for buying this book again, for those who like me already had the previous edition, is that the artwork looks much better now. While in the previous book the mid-tones (done with zip-a-tone) came out too dark and muddy looking, they've fixed the problem, and it comes out much clearer. So it's up to you whether you want to buy it again (it's just like those cd's they keep remastering every ten years over and over again).
However, for those who have never heard about Cannon, but have heard of Wally Wood, this book is a must! But be aware that Cannon features lots of naked broads and violent action. In other words, it's not meant for kiddies (though the sex isn't hardcore either). It's a product of its time though, featuring tough men and slutty girls, which pc-minded people might find offensive now, but was hilarious back then.
I knock off a star for what they did to strip 94, as I explained earlier, and for telling us it's the biggest book yet, when in fact it's the same size as before. It's a pity American publishers don't print these books at an even larger size, but Woody's inking is so clean that even at a stamp-size it can be "read" (but that's not an excuse for printing small).