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Masterpiece Comics

by R. Sikoryak

Publisher: Drawn & Quarterly

Format: Hardcover, 9x12, full color, $19.95

ISBN: 978-1-897299-84-5

Reviewed by: Publishers Weekly

This slim but densely sly volume collects, at long last, 20 years of Sikoryak's classic lit/classic comics mashups. Blondie and Dagwood act out Genesis in "Blonde Eve"; Garfield tempts Jon into a deal with the devil in "Mephistofield"; and Batman turns into Raskol for a reworking of "Crime and Punishment." What could be simple parody in other hands is elevated to multileveled artistry by Sikoryak's uncanny ability to mimic the line of artists from Winsor McCay through Jack Davis to Charles Schulz. He goes far beyond mere imitation to eerily inhabit the artistic sensibilities of a dozen cartoonists; the result is as funny as it is impressive. These retellings linger on the philosophical underpinnings of such tales; coupled with the allusions and baggage of these familiar cartoon characters, the crossovers take on a life of their own to become legitimate adaptations. For instance, Little Pearl in "Red Letter Day" features Marjorie Henderson Buell/John Stanley's Little Lulu characters in a note for note retelling of Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter, contrasting the grim Puritan narrative with the animated expressions of the Bueel/Stanley originals to cast the sin-obsessed settlers into even sharper relief. Readers who pick this up for the well-deserved laughter will get a bonus with the thoughtful metaphors.