- Posted by Johanna on January 28, 2006 at 8:30 am
- Category: Graphic Novel Reviews
- PUBLISHER: Dark Horse Books; $14.95 US
While the lush Drawn & Quarterly books are oversized color volumes featuring fiction by names foreign to the American comic reader, this small book is almost the opposite. It’s black-and-white with autobiographical stories by a contributor list full of well-known cartoonists.
Frank Miller’s true story of cameoing in the Daredevil movie as “Man with Pen in Head” starts off the book. His venom over his treatment by Marvel is the most amusing part of the piece, but the repeated death scenes are captured well by his blocky, black-heavy style.
Sergio Aragones’ story of meeting Richard Nixon is punctuated by his realization of how much pieces of history are affected by the filters applied by popular culture. He’s meeting a man who changed the world, and all he can think is “he sounds like Rich Little”. It’s the perfect story for a book full of memories, some of which are likely dressed up or tweaked to work better as stories.
Jason Lutes’ piece on landscape and environment is a nice counterpoint, beautifully delineated, discussing the factors that shape who people become as well as the nature of connection and metaphor.
Other contributions are more straightforward. Will Eisner’s short piece about being rejected early in his career, for example, ends with a great reminder to keep trying. Paul Chadwick remembers days sharing an apartment complex with a variety of other creators, which becomes a meditation on God’s purpose, combining both straightforward and philosophical styles of storytelling.
William Stout’s story of working as a portraitist ducks out by not really being about him, but about his subject. Other stories include Bill Morrison’s life as a Batman fan; Linda Medley and friend reminiscing over vintage playground equipment; Matt Wagner illustrating a delicious-sounding recipe; and Eddie Campbell fearing he’s lost his sense of humor.
The end of the book turns a bit grimmer, as both Stan Sakai and the team of Fabio Moon & Gabriel Ba tell stories of travel to France. Both are concerned about how close death can be, one through accident, the other by gang violence. Overall, this diverse anthology of real-life stories is worth reading and pondering.