For this column, I wrote in the past about Chris Ware’s “Rusty Brown” (356 pages, 18 years in the making, and weighing 3.5 pounds), Seth’s “Clyde Fans” (478 pages, 20 years, 3.15 pounds) is. ) And Jason Lutes’s “Berlin” (580, 22, 3.8). Add to list The demons (Fantagraphics, $ 39.99, 4.1 pounds), 35 years of labor by British cartoonist Barry Windsor-Smith, and you have almost a century’s worth of cartooning in just four books. For 365 large-format, black-and-white pages, Windsor-Smith conveys terrifying and gentle family scenes, nightmares, and quiet moments of connection. What begins in the viscera-rich world of poor EC comics ‘As the 50s in a subtle quest for memory, the monster of the book’s title runs away from the lab, runs to his childhood home and hears ghosts that re-enact the tragedy of his youth for more than 100 pages Does. Then things get Really Twisted
In 1949 in Ohio, a blond boy named Bobby Bailey was brutally beaten by his mad father, before his mother loses an eye to swoop in to save him. The scene changes 15 years later in California, when a homeless and stray Bobby visits an Army recruiting office. He meets Elias McFarland, a black sergeant whose Ramrod posture elicits past psychological turmoil. McFarland identifies Blanc-Slate Bobby as the perfect candidate for the Top-Secret Prometheus Project. But soon he is filled with guilt, realizing some shared history with a rootless recruit. McFarland late understood the program’s disgusting plan to “make a perfect Superman – an ultimate warrior” using the methods brought by Colonel Frederick, a Nazi remake in the US Army brass.
Despite the substantial page size, the compositions begin claustrophobic: all dark walls and dense crosshatched faces, panels such as gel cells. Marinated in chemicals, Bobby becomes silent, gigantic and gruesome like a rotting hulk. Perversely, what appears to be the story of the vengeance of a battered soul turns inward. The clock goes back to the 1940s, when young Bobby and his mother, Janet, await Father Tom’s return from war, where he is serving as a German interpreter for the military. His homecoming is delayed due to mysterious reasons; Meanwhile, the sympathetic deputy giving the update falls for Janet. Once back from the war, Tom was shattered and abused, seeing things he would not discuss. The excerpts from Janet’s diary form the emotional core of the book. Windsor-Smith’s overheated prose style is more subtle and more reassuring here, as he writes in the voice of a woman who is widowed by war if not really.
In the 60s, the Order jokingly referred to the mad scientist Frederick as “Dr. Frankenstein,” and the name of his terrifying project, “The Modern Prometheus,” a subtitle of Mary Shelley’s Monsterpiece. But a more compelling precursor can be found in Windsor-Smith’s own work – specifically, his take on Wolverine, the X-Men stalwart with leg-long claws.