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Originally created in 1997 and 1998 for the underground anthology Zero Zero, The Search for Smilin’ Ed is the latest of Kim Deitch’s graphic novels to showcase his obsessive burrowing into the nooks and crannies of vintage American popular culture.
Where Boulevard of Broken Dreams focused on the earliest days of the animation industry, Alias the Cat delved into the history of comic strips, and “Molly O’Dare” (collected in Shadowland) concerned vintage movie serials, The Search for Smilin’ Ed explores the wacky world of children’s TV shows.
Launched on his latest investigation by a remark from his brother about a
shared childhood favorite (“Y’know, I heard that when Smilin’ Ed died... his body was NEVER found!”), Deitch begins to uncover some truly amazing things about the kiddie-show host and his malevolent sidekick, Froggy the Gremlin. Meanwhile, Deitch’s muse and nemesis Waldo the Cat abandons Deitch to hang out with some demon buddies, and soon both Waldo and Deitch are closing in on the mysteries of Smilin’ Ed and Froggy.
Ranging across the entire 20th century, replete with flashbacks, stories within stories, and guest appearances from other Deitch regulars, The Search for Smilin’ Ed is a narrative whirligig that shows Deitch at his wildest and woolliest. For those whose heads have started to spin at the complexity of Deitch's mythology, we've included a full-color two-way fold-out guide to "The Kim Deitch Universe," and Deitch scholar Bill Kartalopoulos offers a lengthy essay on the ins and outs of this ever-evolving, ever-expanding world where fantasy, reality, and satire combine, clash, and are sometimes downright indistinguishable.
Bonus! Deitch has also created a brand new story starring Waldo in his 21st century post-Alias the Cat state of domestic bliss, stumbling across an army of (French-) talking beavers. Of course, there’s a story behind that...
“Kim Deitch has created a private world as
fully realized in its own way as Faulkner’s.
He’s an American original, a spinner of
yarns whose beautifully structured pages
and intricate plots conjure up a haunting
and haunted American past.”
– Art Spiegelman
Kim Deitch, creator of the acclaimed Fantagraphics collection Shadowland and the Pantheon graphic novels Alias the Cat and Boulevard of Broken Dreams, has recruited his siblings to produce a unique, all-new "picto-fiction" pocket book. Alternating between heavily illustrated near-comics stories and outright prose pieces, Deitch's Pictorama is a testament to the Deitch family's amazing yarn-spinning abilities!
The book leads off with Kim's lengthy picto-story "The Sunshine Girl," a typically Deitchean tall tale involving bottle cap collectors, drug dealers, family secrets, and the innocents who wind up in the middle of the hullaballoo. Then it's time for Seth's prose short story "Children of Aruf," about a man and his very unusual dog; "Unlikely Hours," a paranoid picto-story about a conspiracy of sentient rats written by Seth and illustrated by Kim; the prose novella "The Golem," once again written by Seth and decorated with a series of superb pencil illustrations by Simon; and finally Kim's autobiographical "The Cop on the Beat, the Man in the Moon and Me." This entire "Deitch treat" is wrapped up with an introduction by legendary Academy Award-winning animator, cartoonist and illustrator and proud papa Gene (Tom Terrific, Terr'ble Thompson, Tom and Jerry) Deitch.
"Few underground cartoonists deserve that subterranean title so fully as Kim Deitch. He was there at the beginning of the movement, drawing for The East Village Other in 1967, and his work retains much of that psychedelic, R. Crumb-like earthiness. But also: He's constantly digging, churning the inky soil of American pop culture and marveling over the fossils he turns up... It's crazy, invigorating stuff, but it's also a mystery: how can an artist so clearly in control of his work go so fully off the rails?" – John Hodgman, The New York Times