I’m back from the comic shop this week and I got five new comics:

  • Batman: Gates of Gotham – 3
  • The Walking Dead – 87
  • Flashpoint: Wonder Woman and the Furies – 1 and 2
  • Rocketeer Adventures – 3
  • And now for a review of something I’ve read recently.

    “The Search for Smilin’ Ed” by Kim Deitch

    Despite the fact that Deitch has been making comics since the 1960s I never read much of his work. Sure I read a short story or two over the decades but never enough to really get a feel for his comics. It wasn’t until around 2005 when I picked up his “Stuff of Dreams” comics (later collected as “Alias the Cat”) that I really read anything of his in depth. And I liked it.

    It’s hard to describe a Deitch comic. The guy who wrote the introduction to “The Search for Smilin’ Ed” does a much better job than I could but I’ll try. Deitch mixes fact, fantasy, mythology, and anything else he can into a stew of a world that makes sense in its own way. Sometimes Deitch draws himself as a narrator telling the story, sometimes the characters tell the story, and either can talk directly to the reader at any given time. Somehow it’s all seamless and believable.

    This particular tale is about Deitch himself getting interested in an old and obscure 1950s TV show host. He tries to track down as much info as he can on the guy and his cast of characters from the TV show. One character in particular interests Deitch. A frog puppet who seems to move without a puppeteer.

    Deitch can only find so much info so then the narrative is picked up by a cartoon cat named Waldo. Waldo exists in the world as a fictional cartoon cat but he is actually a weird demon who inspired the cartoonist to make him. Waldo has some adventures and unbeknownst to Deitch picks up the story of the old TV show host. At another point Deitch, in the story, is mysteriously given the script to the comic we are reading telling the tale of the TV show host. It’s confusing to explain but not to read.

    Deitch’s art is pretty good stuff. He is quoted in the intro as saying that he considers himself a writer who draws and I can agree with that. He doesn’t seem to me to be a particularly gifted cartoonist as some are but he makes the most of his talent. You can tell he works hard and he uses line, hatching, and cross hatching well to create a rich black and white world. He has an excellent imagination too.

    I read this book while on the train into and out of NYC and I enjoyed it cover to cover. It really is interesting spending some time in the world that Deitch has created for us. Give it a read.