Named one of "The Best Damn Comics of 2010 Chosen by the Artists" by artist Josh Frankel and critic Brian Heater at The Daily Cross Hatch
Listed as a favorite comic of 2010 by Dan Nadel in a survey of comics creators at Robot 6
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
Download and explore the Kim Deitch Universe and familiarize yourself with Deitch's mind-bogglingly rich and complex world. Click the images above to open large images in a new browser window (they're large files, so please be patient while they download).
"...[T]his cartwheeling shaggy-dog story begins, like a lot of metafiction, with the semblance of reality... But by the time a frog demon reanimates a 19th-century French peasant whose brains it has eaten, it’s fairly clear that Deitch is making stuff up. The fun of the book is the way it constantly darts back and forth across the line between genuine show-business lore (a favorite Deitch theme) and delirious whole-cloth invention. There are stories within stories, unreliable explainers, secret passageways that lead from one part of the tale to another." – Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)
"Deitch collects and expands a late-1990s project, another of his explorations of the seamy, dangerous,
strictly ludicrous underbelly of American pop culture. ... Maybe even more than fellow first-wave underground comics creator Crumb, Deitch has
maintained his quality. Marvelous stuff."
– Ray Olson, Booklist
"...[The Search for Smilin' Ed is] a massive comedic epic of demonic possession and ventriloquism — it’s an explosion of the kind of thing Deitch does best. ... I defy anyone to read this and keep pace with Deitch’s ideas — somewhere between hippie psychedelics and virtual reality futurism is where Deitch’s brain lies. His wacky cartoon art style reveals a complex universe that meditates on the nature of reality itself, and your personal place within it as filtered through the isolated impressions of your own brain." – John Seven, Reverse Direction
Praise for Kim 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
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