Here, laid out for ogling (no jostling, dammit!) is the as-promised sumptuous prize package to be delivered to the fortunate and determined Pinax.
Some points to note: two of these books are not strictly duplicates, but rather differing versions of material I have in another format, the McCay book and the Gonick book.
There are two possible collectibles in the batch: a first-year, possibly first printing (but it doesn’t say) volume three of the ground breaking, still-sells-like-hotcakes DARK KNIGHT series by Frank Miller, and Chris Ware’s ACME NOVELTY LIBRARY NUMBER 10. I can’t tell if the Ware book is a reprint or not.
Ware is a genius, and this little book of bitter misanthropy has made me laugh so I hard I’ve frightened small children. Purchased by mistake while hypnotized by the pretty colors and enchanting landscapes that populate his work. Keep that Prozac handy so you don’t slit your wrists from the grim hopelessness and misery!
This forms Chapter One of the second collected book of Gonick’s monumental work of cartoon scholarship. It remains the single best cartoon introduction to the sweep of Classical Greek history (did that come out right?), and there’s never a dull moment. The period covered here is from the defeat of the Persian invasion of Greece to Alexander the Great’s ill-fated venture to India, roughly 480 B.C. to about 330 B. C., just shy of that gifted and peculiar man’s death.
I could go on and on, but just take my word for it, a whole lot of very interesting, profoundly influential things happened during this time, stuff that directly affects your life in ways you don’t even think about. Gonick sets it up and provides a bibliography while cracking wise every step of the way.
Winsor McCay invented the fantasy comic as well as the entire field of animation. No, really, he did. LITTLE NEMO IN SLUMBERLAND was his sunday full-page comic from very early in the century, and his work on the series is noted for immense, surrealistically detailed drawings and fantastic attention to detail in coloration, all within overall, full-page compositions that still, nearly one hundred years later, grab your eye and just won’t let go.
For reasons unkown to any living man, the erstwhile publishers of this version of the work, Blackthorne, have decided to cut the strips up, reproduce them in black and white only, and to randomly blow up or reduce the panels so they’ll fit the misguided format better.
Thankfully, Fantagraphics has come to the rescue with a multi-volume beautiful coffee-table-size series of reprints that do some justice to the work of this early cartoonist and giant of American art.
This book is still of value as an introduction, and hopefully Pinax may be moved to learn more about McCay’s wild body of work.
I have no idea how I ended up with two copies of this one issue of the series. For all I know it’s worth something. At any rate, the collected edition – along with Alan Moore’s roughly contemporaneous WATCHMEN – is still on the best seller list for graphic novels, year in, year out.
Ah, that year it was really something. Comics were changing! Art was possible, and you could even make art with superheroes! The big publishers were gonna open up to cool new narrative techniques!
Watching Miller and Moore slug it out to boggle the comic reading public’s mind remains one of the fantastic spectacles of my youth.
How do they fare, nearly twenty years on? They still surprise, although the visual shock of some of Miller’s innovations is gone; you can still see their influence on both mainstream and alternative publishers in the increased quality of paper and printing and the artistic latitude and encouragement given to artists in developing new, flashy approaches.
In the end, though, Moore’s WATCHMEN stands out as truly original; Miller’s debt to Sergio Leone and the image of Eastwood’s amoral wanderer – relected back at Miller in Eastwood’s ’92 UNFORGIVEN, which liberally borrows from DARK KNIGHT – has become clearer over time. Which is not to say DARK KNIGHT isn’t cool.
I don’t know how easy it will be to follow the tale with just this one chapter.
They’re all YOURS, Pinax – just send me your mailing address privately and I’ll have them loaded into an anti-grav-mounted statis slab for interstellar delivery within several short, short months! How time will fly as you await your picture books.