cover image Maakies


Tony Millionaire. Fantagraphics Books, $14.95 (136pp) ISBN 978-1-56097-391-1

This volume collects Millionaire's popular weekly comic strip Maakies and follows the dubious adventures of a monkey and bird, Uncle Gabby and Drinky-Crow, a drunken seafaring duo utterly divorced from reality and compelled to escape life through total inebriation. Ever sloshed, these two ""heroes"" stumble through decapitations and amputations of every variety, delirium tremens and self-cannibalism, in a never-ending cycle of comical misery, pain and death. But in the great tradition of comic-book characters, they come alive again ready for their next horrific exit. The two also recite poetry: world-weary reflections on love, death, drunkenness and the futility of life. Even the fish are alienated, sighing ""the baited hook, a tired clich ,"" as Gabby casts his fishing line into the water. Millionaire's strange and engaging comics style alternates between an almost sincere romanticism and a wholly unpredictable cartoonism. He'll devote a series of panels to beautifully rendered riverboats, while the next entries feature a roving band of ear mites who take up residence in Drinky-Crow's rotted, sun-baked skull and ask him to describe the afterlife (""like being strapped to a tornado of pain,"" he responds). The black and white drawings are impressive, with gorgeously rendered sailing ships, nostalgic seascapes and drawings in the style of 19th-century German prints. Designed by the esteemed Chip Kidd, this is a must-read for comics fans. (Feb.)