This year is the 70th anniversary of the first appearance of Speck, an energetic young Catholic lad of generally good intent but prone to temptation, particularly where snacks are involved. To celebrate, About Comics is releasing two books of classic Speck cartoons.
Created by W.R. "Tut" LeBlanc, single-panel cartoons about Speck first appeared on the pages of Catholic Action of the South, the newspaper of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New Orleans, starting March 1, 1951 (mere days before the March 12 launch of that other single-panel young troublemaker, Dennis the Menace.) The panel quickly grew in popularity with syndication and reprint booklets – the first of which, An Altar Boy Named 'Speck', has just been reprinted by About Comics.
Unfortunately, less than two years into the panel's run, Tut LeBlanc died from a life-long heart condition, a mere 37 years old. Cartoonist Margaret Ahern, who had already created the mainstream syndicated strip "Little Reggie" and would go on to create "Our Parish" (both under pseudonyms), took over the panel and kept it popular, running with good material for over a quarter century, expanding it into more papers and more book collections. About Comics has gathered the first two book collections of Ahern strips from the 1950s – Speck the Altar Boy and Presenting… Speck the Altar Boy – and combined them into a single volume, with the catchy title of Speck the Altar Boy: The Collection Compilation.
About Comics is the nation's leading publisher of Catholic-themed cartoons, practically by default. "Since 2018 we've issued dozens of books featuring nuns, priests, friars, and parishioners," explains publisher Nat Gertler, "but somehow until now we'd overlooked the topic of altar boys altogether. Once I saw these cartoons, I knew that we had to bring them back into print. Hopefully, they'll find a home with altar boys and those who have appreciated them."
An Altar Boy Named 'Speck' (ISBN 978-1-949996-30-2) is a black-and-white paperback with 66 pages of Tut LeBlanc cartoons priced at $7.99. Speck the Altar Boy: The Collection Compilation (ISBN 978-1-949996-31-9) is a black-and-white paperback with 204 pages of Margaret Ahern cartoons priced at $12.99