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Dylan Horrocks

Sam Zabel And The Magic Pen

On sale date: January 17, 2015

A burned-out superhero comic artist goes on an adventure that spans time and space—with two female companions.

Acclaimed cartoonist Dylan Horrocks returns with a long-awaited new graphic novel, the first since his perennial classic, 1998’s Hicksville. Cartoonist Sam Zabel hasn’t drawn a comic in years. Stuck in a nightmare of creative block and despair, Sam spends his days writing superhero stories for a large American comics publisher and staring at a blank piece of paper, unable to draw a single line. Then one day he finds a mysterious old comic book set on Mars and is suddenly thrown headlong into a wild, fantastic journey through centuries of comics, stories, and imaginary worlds. Accompanied by a young webcomic creator named Alice and an enigmatic schoolgirl with rocket boots and a bag full of comics, Sam goes in search of the Magic Pen, encountering sex-crazed aliens, medieval monks, pirates, pixies and — of course — cartoonists. Funny, erotic, and thoughtful, Sam Zabel and the Magic Pen explores the pleasures, dangers, and moral consequences of fantasy.


“This book is necessary for anyone paralyzed even a bit by the creative/spiritual confusion of the digital age. Horrocks explores the role and responsibility of storytelling, juggling genres, fiddling with the mechanics of the comics form, and reclaiming the sense of magic that once reigned the medium -- a playfulness contagious for the reader. Like his Hicksville, a must have in every library.” — Craig Thompson (Blankets, Habibi)

“Sam Zabel and the Magic Pen is a coming-of-age story for the fantasies of our past and a joyful bear hug for the storytellers of our future. An effortless, magical read from front to back.” — Scott McCloud (Understanding Comics, The Sculptor)

“Horrocks’ intelligence and crisp, colorful Tintin-esque art combine in an offbeat, incisive, and entertaining critique of classic comic tropes.” — Ray Olson - Booklist

“...[A] thoughtful, layered graphic novel... The result is sublime: a breezy-reading rumination on the promise and the problems inherent in graphic novels’ complicated history, and the power the creator holds in shaping the medium’s future.” — Aaron Ragan-Fore - Eugene Weekly

“Zabel embarks on a journey… [that] transcends the classic cautionary 'be careful what you wish for' tale, reflecting on gender politics in comics and how they intersect with fantasy.” — Hillary Brown - Paste


Full color
7.4" × 10.3"