Sunday, January 14, 2007

Book-A-Day #180 (1/12): Shadowland by Kim Deitch

Deitch is another comics writer-artist with a very idiosyncratic subject matter; he's a little like Richard Sala (whose The Chuckling Whatsit I read a couple of months back) that way -- though their specific idiosyncrasies are quite different.

Sala's books are all about mysterious plots, femmes fatale, large casts of noir people slaughtering each other for murky reasons, and inky, inky blacks.

Deitch is a bit sunnier, with books generally focused on old Hollywood (and similar entertainments, like circuses, freak shows, and carnivals), buried secrets, and some kind of supernatural element (usually either aliens or demonic cartoon cats). His art is a bit fussier than Sala's, with lots of shading and background details, but relatively cartoony figures.

This book collects a bunch of related stories about the Ledicker Circus, the early Hollywood starlet Molly O'Dare, and the Grafton Curse. (Deitch's most famous character, Waldo -- the aforementioned demonic cartoon cat -- doesn't show up here, but we do have aliens and and race of strangely-powered pygmies.) This is not a comic for kids -- there's quite a bit of violence and sex in it -- but you'd expect that it someone who came out of the world of the undergrounds (as Deitch did).

I think I like the Waldo books best, but they're a bit sprawling at this point, with no obvious center. This is a good one-volume introduction to Deitch, collecting all of the important stories in one of his cycles, and shows off the things he does best.

The Fabulous Book-A-Day Index!

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