This is a story about a girl, born at the beginning of the 20th century. She grows up in a small river town in upstate New York. One day the mysterious Charles Varnay, an eccentric who dresses in the style of an 18th century dandy, comes to town, his sole companion a remarkably intelligent dog named Rousseau. Varnay wants to star Katherine in a movie serial he plans to make, called The Goddess of Enlightenment.
Katherine is rather put off when she discovers that he expects her to appear nude in this film. But even more strange is the films subject matter: It has to do with seven metal urns that Varnay claims are actual recordings of the voice of Jesus Christ which, he says, contain an urgent message that the modern world needs to hear!
Varnay also claims that his dog, Rousseau, is the product of experiments he has been making in advanced selective breeding. Hes eager to continue these experiments with human subjects; Katherine realizes that hes expecting her to be a part of this, and it worries her...
The Amazing, Enlightening and Absolutely True Adventures of Katherine Whaley is a full-length graphic novel created in a striking "widescreen" landscape format that allows Deitch to give full rein to his astonishing graphics.
Praise for The Search for Smilin' Ed:
Kim Deitch has created a private world as fully realized in its own way as Faulkners. Hes an American original, a spinner of yarns whose beautifully structured pages and intricate plots conjure up a haunting and haunted American past. – Art Spiegelman
"...[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)
"Maybe even more than fellow first-wave underground comics creator Crumb, Deitch has maintained his quality. Marvelous stuff." Ray Olson, Booklist
"Reading this book is a wild ride; Deitch's prodigious storytelling talents and graphic craftsmanship keep things moving and compelling." Richard Pachter, The Miami Herald
""The story booms with Deitch's explosive composition techniques and the narrative recoil... is no less compelling. ...[W]ho doesn't want their demons, time travelers, midgets and voyeuristic aliens in one oily melee?" John Reed, Los Angeles Times
"The story gets more twisted with every page, though it always makes sense in a Deitch-ian way. Deitch... retains an astonishing ability to tap into the deepest desires of pop-culture junkies, and to show how the satisfaction we seek from nostalgia can lead us to some dark corners of our collective showbiz past." The A.V. Club
""There's no cartoonist out there that makes better use of expanding canvasses than Kim Deitch. Literally and figuratively. The rhapsodic spreads one, two, even four pages he drops into his narratives are one of comics' finest stand-alone effects..." Tom Spurgeon, The Comics Reporter
"I defy anyone to read this and keep pace with Deitchs ideas somewhere between hippie psychedelics and virtual reality futurism is where Deitchs 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:
"Kim Deitch is easily one of the greatest cartoonists in the world, and in the history of the medium." Chris Ware
"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