Wednesday, August 4, 2021

The Strange Death of Alex Raymond


The Strange Death of Alex Raymond is a beautifully drawn but largely inscrutable graphic novel begun by Dave Sim and more or less completed by Carson Grubaugh. Due out in Aug 2021, it's 320 pages and will be available in hardcover format. 

This is a difficult book to evaluate and review. On the one hand the art is top notch - beautifully rendered and clean - it mesmerizes. The story on the other hand is just strange and very disjointed. It begins (mostly) understandably, with a parallel narrative essay on photorealism generously interleaved with kind of nutsobonkers conspiracy theory and soon switches into turbo-numerology and around that point I lost (and never found) the plot again.

If it's truly sublime genius, a modern comics stream-of-consciousness nod to Finnegan's Wake, Anna Karenina and other classics, or simply self absorbed navel gazing must be left to wiser minds than mine. I do know that I simply couldn't catch any narrative threads and wasn't able to sink myself into the story at any point, but I really loved looking at the art. 

Five stars for the art. One star for the narrative (which may well have been too intellectual and subtle for me). Three stars overall. For Dave Sim completionists, this will be a must-buy. Probably important for public library acquisition, otherwise I'm in a bit of a quandary for audiences for whom this will be a good fit.

Disclosure: I received an ARC at no cost from the author/publisher for review purposes.

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