B. Krigstein, Author, Greg Sadowski, Editor , edited by Greg Sadowski. Fantagraphics $49.95 (240p) ISBN 978-1-56097-573-1

Famed as one of the great innovators in comics history, Krigstein was one of the first cartoonists to consciously experiment with pacing and layout for psychological effect. This impressive coffee-table book follows his development from his heavy-handed crime and romance comics of the late 1940s to his expressionist masterpieces for EC Comics a few years later. Employing a variety of artistic styles and inking techniques, Krigstein emerges as a restless trendsetter, moving from a loose, sketchy style to a dense horror technique, depending on the story. Unfortunately, the reprinted comics stories also show how Krigstein was handcuffed by the period's trite themes and "shock" endings. Many of the stories are so hackneyed they're barely readable today, and when editor Sadowski mentions that a story about a pirate with an ape for a sidekick was a Krigstein favorite, one can only wonder why. However, at EC, Krigstein found writers similarly dedicated to pushing artistic boundaries, and these collaborations are the book's finest: "Key Chain," in which a crime in a key-making shop leads to madness, or "In the Bag," a gruesome story of a cop following a suspicious character whom Krigstein elevates to art with his moody storytelling and withering ability to capture human weakness with a few lines. The quality is heightened by Marie Severin's masterful recolorings throughout. (Aug.)

Reviewed on: 09/20/2004
Release date: 08/01/2004
Hardcover - 300 pages - 978-1-56097-931-9
Hardcover - 250 pages - 978-1-56097-466-6
Show other formats
The Best Books, Emailed Every Week
Tip Sheet!