Wednesday, September 06, 2017

Early Stories: 1977-1988 by Rick Geary

It's a cliche that creators resent their fans who like best the "early funny ones," but I have to be that guy for just a second. Rick Geary has had a wonderful career: he has a quirky but devastatingly precise line and has made several dozen excellent graphic novels about historical murders over the last couple of decades. (Plus a number of other things.)

But he started out even quirkier, and I might like that ultra-quirky Geary even better than the meticulous, methodical, organized chronicler of mayhem. For about the first decade of Geary's career -- say, the period covered by Rick Geary Early Stories: 1977-1988 -- a Geary comics page was as likely to be a collection of lovingly-detailed kitchen appliances as anything else. Or a carefully-drawn collection of vignettes from oddly-named motels from around the country. Or a series of unexplained and possibly supernatural events, narrated dryly and matter-of-factly, as if it was just another day.

Geary nailed a deadpan affect from the beginning, and that, plus his almost-immediately strong drawing abilities made these slices of bizarre life unique in the cartoon world of the late '70s. You might not have entirely understood an early Geary story, but it was compelling and memorable and unlike anyone else.

Those stories were collected other places over the years, most notably the Geary collections Housebound and At Home with Rick Geary. Both of those are long out of print, so it's wonderful to see Early Stories gather eighty pages of prime high Geary weirdness into one place. You're not going to find this book easily, though -- it may turn up in a comic shop or independent bookstore or two, but the only dependable way to find it is to buy it directly from the author.

And I do recommend that you do that, if you have any inclination towards odd, off-the-wall stories told matter-of-factly in comics form. Early Geary practically invented that style, and remains its undisputed master.

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