Maniac Killer Strikes Again!: Delirious, Mysterious Stories

Richard Sala, Author . Fantagraphics $16.95 (176p) ISBN 978-1-56097-574-8

Sala holds a unique place in the comics world. His work is neither fish nor fowl, not too spooky, not too silly and not so far out as to be unreachable. He creates noir stories, some serious, some funny, most both, in a unique visual style. His closest antecedent may be Edward Gorey, but Sala's work is all his own. This collection of short stories from hither and yon goes back nearly two decades. In Sala's world, thieves steal faces, skulls glow, madmen run free, plants eat people and it's always Thirteen O'Clock. The first story (named "Thirteen O'Clock," incidentally) occupies the first 42 pages of the book and brings together many of Sala's preoccupations: strange scientists, detectives, funny names ("Mr. Murmer"), femme fatales, non-humans and so on. But Sala harnesses the weirdness to tell a briskly paced thriller. Once readers get past the subject matter, the storytelling is fairly straightforward. Sala's comics work so well because of the artist's distinctive line work. The characters and places he describes could exist nowhere but in his pages, and so to read a Sala comic is to walk into a baroque world of pen and ink, an experience both jarring and fun. Good for a rainy day or a stormy night, this volume will give old Sala fans a good fix and will thrill (or at least tickle) new ones. (Jan.)

Reviewed on: 03/29/2004
Release date: 01/01/2004
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