I was at the Strand on Sunday evening, browsing their selection of graphic novels. I couldn't help overhearing this Australian family nearby asking the store clerk about what they had. The mother was wielding an impressive selection of books under her arm, while her son continued picking out more ( comics are like potato chips - you can never have just one ), and she asked this question:
"Do you have any Pink Panther?"
Prior to asking him, she was thinking out aloud, "I'm sure they have some Pink Panther here; this store has everything!"
Well...I wouldn't say that, but right away her words implied that in Australia, Pink Panther comic books are as ubiquitous as old Garfield and Pogo paperbacks from the 80s on a used bookstore shelf. At the moment, I could only recall a coffee table book Jerry Beck wrote about the Panther's cartoons..and I suppose they weren't inquiring for books about a gang of jewel thieves, either.
The store clerk's response was more diplomatic:
"I'm not sure - I'm going to check the inventory. I'll be right back."
He came back. He didn't find anything. So the family continued onward with the growing list of books the son was picking out. After a modest web search, it turns out an Australian publisher cranked out trade paperback collections of Pink Panther comics, so the character had a far greater presence as a comic book character among Aussies than he did in the 'States. He's bigger than Scooby-Doo..well, maybe 2nd or 3rd to Scooby...I don't see any made-for-DVD/Blu-Ray cartoon movies being cranked out for Pink Panther..though there are two "Top Cat" movies that were released in theaters overseas..
I know there's a new Pink Panther comic book series coming out, which appears to be a mix of new material and reprints of stories from the Gold Key years. It would be cool if the publisher - American Anthology - considered a series of trade reprints of that material - kind of like Archie Comics with their Sonic the Hedgehog Archives books, or Papercutz did with the Smurfs comic books. There was a short-lived Sunday comic strip by Eric & Bill Teitelbaum, which wasn't collected. The collections could be pocket-sized and in color. And..there is a new movie in development...a cg/live-action film starring the panther, so the timing is pretty good for 'Pink' to come back.