cover image Escapo


Paul Pope. Z2 Comics (Diamond, dist.), $24.99 (160p) ISBN 978-1-940878-00-3

This new edition reprints a 1999 story by Pope (Battling Boy) that has long been unavailable. The death-defying Escapo, the world’s greatest escape artist, works as a circus performer. He’s distracted by the Magnificent Aerobella, Queen of the Highwire, however, and has a hard time keeping his head in the game. As Escapo broods over whether Aerobella can possibly like him, he must escape a series of terrifying contraptions that force him to confront Death himself. Pope’s influences come both from the European and Japanese traditions, with some Jack Kirby thrown in for good measure, giving his illustrations an enigmatic elegance that ricochets among the styles depending on the story. Especially noteworthy are Pope’s illustrations of the machines—like the diabolical Waterwomb and the brutal Pinceur. Readers can see how the raw energy in the early sketches of these devices, provided in the back matter, transfer to the final illustrations. Pope’s notes on the process of writing Escapo, which are also included, make this new edition well worth picking up. (Apr.)