Deitch's Pictorama

Gene Deitch, Author, Simon Deitch, Author, Seth Kallen Deitch, Author . Fantagraphics $14.95 (166p) ISBN 978-1-56097-952-4

Noted independent cartoonist Kim Deitch (Alias the Cat ; Boulevard of Broken Dreams ) teams up with his brothers, writer Seth Kallen Deitch and illustrator Simon Deitch, to provide this experimental collection of “Pictofiction.” It's not quite the revolutionary expansion of graphic novels the Deitches sell it as; it's illustrated prose with an occasional comics page. Kim's artwork, when it appears, is the highlight of the book, demonstrating the assurance he has acquired over years of underground cartooning. His depiction of a bottle cap convention in his novella, “Sunshine Girl,” is sly and witty, and his illustration of brother Seth Kallen's story, “Unlikely Hours,” is more of an illumination, employing inventive interactions between drawing and printed typeface. Simon's artwork is more static, so it's appropriate that he confines himself to illustrating a prose story (Seth Kallen's pastiche, “The Golem”). Still, like many experiments, this one is a qualified success. In some stories, extended blocks of text undermine the visceral impact of the artwork. Both Kim and Seth Kallen exhibit a tendency to wander off into various odd digressions, understandable in traditional prose but oddly redundant when paired with their brothers' illustrations. Still, a failed Deitch brothers experiment is more engaging than many lesser talents' moderate successes. (Sept.)

Reviewed on: 10/13/2008
Release date: 09/01/2008
Genre: Fiction
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