Thierry Smolderen, Jean-phillipe Bra­manti (Il­lus­tra­tor), Titan Comics (OC­TO­BER) Hard­cover $49.99 (232pp), 978-1-78586-885-6

Foreword Reviews - - Contents - by Peter Dabbene

Ac­tual events from the life of famed car­toon­ist Win­sor Mc­cay are com­bined with fan­tasy and sci­ence fic­tion el­e­ments to cre­ate a unique hy­brid in the graphic novel Mc­cay.

Win­sor Mc­cay is revered among fans of comic strips, per­haps best known for the elab­o­rately drawn Lit­tle Nemo in Slum­ber­land, which ran from 1905 to 1914 and again from 1924 to 1926, doc­u­ment­ing a young boy’s nightly ad­ven­tures in a fan­tas­tic dream world. A typ­i­cal bi­og­ra­phy of Mc­cay might prove in­ter­est­ing enough, but—true to Mc­cay’s most fa­mous cre­ation—smolderen in­stead in­fuses Mc­cay with a sur­real, dream­like plot. The book fea­tures a fic­tional killer who es­capes cap­ture by trav­el­ing via the fourth di­men­sion, as well as his­tor­i­cal fig­ures like Charles Hin­ton, a math­e­ma­ti­cian and sci­ence fic­tion writer; Harry Hou­dini; Wil­liam Ran­dolph Hearst; and, of course, Mc­cay.

Bra­manti’s art is stun­ning, a com­bi­na­tion of photo-qual­ity re­al­ism—some pan­els use ac­tual pho­to­graphs as mod­els—and a fuzzy, im­pres­sion­is­tic in­flu­ence that fits per­fectly with the book’s con­ceit: re­al­ity, plus a bit more.

Col­lected and trans­lated from the orig­i­nal French edi­tions, the book in­cludes a se­ries of twenty-four “imag­ined cov­ers,” as if the book had been pub­lished as a monthly comic. These are ex­cel­lent, but ac­cord­ing to Smolderen’s af­ter­word, their in­clu­sion re­quired the sac­ri­fice of the orig­i­nal his­tor­i­cal back­ground dossiers and de­tails—a ques­tion­able de­ci­sion, given the com­plex in­ter­play of fact and fic­tion at work in Mc­cay.

An in­spired book in ev­ery sense of the word, Mc­cay is likely to please the artist’s fans, even while chal­leng­ing their ex­pec­ta­tions.

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