Reincarnation Stories

Fantagraphics. Oct. 2019. 260p. ISBN 9781683962618. $29.99. Rated: Teen+. F
This new collection from celebrated cartoonist Deitch (The Amazing, Enlightening and Absolutely True Adventures of Katherine Whaley) opens with the author attempting to conjure his earliest memory while recovering from routine eye surgery—a scene those unfamiliar with his work would be forgiven for assuming to be the opening of a memoir. Within a few pages, though, the author’s memory of visiting the Museum of National History as a child segues into a wild tale about meeting a man who claims to have been raised among a group of monkeys who regarded him as their spiritual leader. Another story begins with Deitch recounting his first job delivering newspapers as a boy before turning into an adaptation of an unproduced screenplay about a group of Nez Percé living on the moon. Deitch’s love of classic films, old cartoons, and 1960s psychedelia is clear, and aliens, demons, talking cats, and time travel abound in these beautifully crafted, wonderfully surprising stories, mostly revolving around reincarnation and culminating in an unexpected profound treatise on the nature of good and evil.
VERDICT While the work Deitch has produced since 1967 has already earned him acclaim as one of the world’s greatest living cartoonists, this latest release is both his most accessible and, at last, his masterpiece. [See author interview, LJ 10/19.]
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