Berlin #20

Berlin #20

I’m not going to review Berlin #20 here, because who starts a 22-part series at this point? I did want to take a moment, though, to say congratulations to Jason Lutes for sticking with the series.

Berlin began in spring 1996 from Black Eye Books (another Canadian publisher who also put out work by Jay Stephens, Ed Brubaker, and Dylan Horrocks). The first third of the story was collected in 2000 as Berlin: City of Stones; the second part, Berlin: City of Smoke, made it out in 2008.

It’s the story of the city pre-World War II, from 1928-1933 (which means, like the M*A*S*H* TV series, the fiction has run much longer than the events it aims to capture). That’s the end of the Weimar Republic, the pre-Hitler German state, although the Fuhrer appears in the first pages of this issue.

Berlin #20

The reason to read Berlin, in my opinion, the amazingly detailed draftsmanship of Lutes. The fine linework and confident use of black spaces establish a substantial feel of the presence of this particular time and space. Yet Lutes drops all that detailed background away when necessary to emphasize certain moments and statements.

Even not knowing these characters, I could relate to particular moments portrayed. The Jews are being harassed, officially, so we see some trying to take comfort in religion, some mourning a fellow resistance fighter, and some trying to make decisions about their daily life in this environment. Lutes also includes Yeats’ “The Second Coming”, which I always appreciate hearing. (The publisher provided a review copy.)


  • James Schee

    Berlin was one of the group of indies I tried when I first broke from just the 2 big publishers to try stuff. I found it a bit slow, but I may appreciate it now that I’m older better. Interesting to hear it is still going this many years later as well. Others in my group I tried Akiko, Xeno’s Arrow, Thieves & Kings have long passed on, though a few like Blue Monday and Box Office Poison have had recent revivals though.

  • Ah, the memories. Mark Crilley (Akiko) moved to writing kids’ novels before being very successful with “how to draw” books. Mark Oakley (Thieves & Kings) just had a couple of collections of his Stardust solicited in Previews. And as you say, reprints of the last two are still being published. Great stuff all!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *