cover image Shroud for Waldo

Shroud for Waldo

Kim Deitch. Fantagraphics Books, $7.95 (64pp) ISBN 978-1-56097-081-1

Underground cartoonist Deitch--who has influenced dozens of comics artists, especially Kaz ( Buzzbomb )--ultimately disappoints with this collection of his Waldo strip, the story of a drunken lout who thinks he's a cat. The art is amazing, at once completely nonrepresentational and realistic to the last detail. Yet there is so much in each panel--from dancing elephants to hideous demons--that readers can lose themselves in the art and ignore the story, which unfortunately is directionless and lackluster. The plot reveals the origin of Waldo: he is Judas Iscariot, reincarnated as a demon who looks like a cat. Waldo liberates Jesus from the cross while visiting the detox ward of a hospital (``So, you finally came back, huh?'' Waldo asks), while an orderly discovers the Turin-like shroud of the title, with Waldo's image on it. The orderly is in fact a man who condemned Jesus at Gethsemane, and who has wandered immortal ever since; Waldo/Judas has been reincarnated to help redeem the orderly. A marginal book from a nonmarginal cartoonist. (Aug.)