Dick Burger has been hailed by fandom as the greatest comic book creator since Jack Kirby. Unlike Kirby, however, Burger retained ownership of his characters and became a media tycoon, complete with a private jet furnished with a hot tub and a mansion in Los Angeles. He is also an insufferable bastard.
Leonard Bates is a North American journalist who is conducting research for a biography of Burger. When he travels to Hicksville, New Zealand to visit Burger's childhood home, he discovers that no one in the village wants to talk to him about Burger. For reasons unknown to Bates, they are downright angry at him for even mentioning his name. They are delighted, however, to give Bates access to the town library, which contains the greatest comic book collection on the face of the earth (including several copies of Action #1 which they casually pull from the shelves). It turns out that everyone in the village is connoisseur of comics and they'd all read Bates' earlier biography of Kirby. What is going in here? wonders Bates, and what's the big mystery about Burger?
That's the setup for Hicksville, an absorbing 250-page graphic novel by Dylan Horrocks, and republished Drawn & Quarterly with a new introduction. Horrocks does a fine job of weaving the medium of comics into the comic without making it obviously self-referential. I grew up reading Kirby and later was involved in the minicomics scene, and this book resonated with me. Hicksville was awarded "Book of the Year" by The Comics Journal, which described it as "a sweetly told love letter to the comics medium." It was also was nominated for two Ignatz Awards, a Harvey Award, and two Alph'Art Awards.
Mark Frauenfelder is the founder of Boing Boing and the editor-in-chief of MAKE and Cool Tools. Twitter: @frauenfelder. Come and hear Mark speak at the ALA conference in Chicago on July 1.
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