The Friday Comics Review
The Amazing Remarkable Monsieur Leotard by Eddie Campbell & Dan Best (First Second, 128 pages, $16.95). A romantic fantasy might not be what you'd expect from the artist of the Jack the Ripper classic, From Hell, but Eddie Campbell has stayed in his recent experimental mode and produced (with co-writer Dan Best) a graphic novel that could almost be called sweet. Or at least as sweet as a story can be that involves a pygmy-eating ti-lion (half lion, half tiger), a trained bear that cheats on his female trainer (with another bear), and the sinking of the Titanic.
The Amazing Remarkable Monsieur Leotard is another of Campbell's recreations and reimaginings of the 19th century world, in this case, that of a travelling circus and a young man named Etienne who inherits it from his uncle, the original Leotard. The characters are a mix of real and fantastic (a talking bear, a rubber man who really stretches), and the episodes go from comedic to strange, wistful to tragic. Sometimes-- amazingly, remarkably-- Campbell even pulls off all four changes in the same scene.
A perfect example is the weird, funny scene where a new Human Cannonball tries his luck. Here are a few panels (and note the nice brushwork-- his artwork is a pleasure all the way through the book):
The last part of the book, dealing with Etienne and his friends in their post-circus old age, is surprisingly moving, with a happy-sad ending that even includes a cameo appearance by Joe Shuster and Jerry Siegel, the creators of Superman. It's a perfect end to a story that could only be told in the comics format.
(Once again, New York's Comics Page beat me to this-- here's a link to their preview with lots of artwork.)
But wait . . . there's more! We'll be back after a few words from our sponsors.
Tales Designed to Thrizzle #4 by Michael Kupperman (Fantagraphics, $4.50).
I've written before about how much I love Kupperman's work, even if words fail me in describing it. The new issue of his semi-pseudo-quasi-anthology book is a real treat, and even its format gimmick is laugh-out-loud: It's designed to be read a page every half-hour after waking, with its content designed to follow the changes of the day. The usual Kupperman suspects show up, like the crimefighting team of Snake 'n' Bacon, as well as lots of ads for things like taco repair and learning piano in your sleep. And where else will you find Mark Twain and Albert Einstein together in a '70s cop show?
Send Steve an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.