A new graphic novel by a talented and original young American comics artist, this is an archetypal story about love, fear and the looming inevitability of death. The central character is a Houdini-like circus escape artist who enters and gets out of an ominous array of huge, deadly, beautifully imagined devices. Pope (The One Trick Rip-off) includes two variations on the story of the escape artist. In one, Escapo finds himself face to face with death in the form of a cackling, grimly persistent skeleton. In the other, the protagonist, overcome by his love for a beautiful woman utterly uninterested in him, considers submitting to his deadly props and being done with it all. Pope's combination of spare, allusively poignant prose; a hair-raising, dramatically gestural black-and-white drawing style (influenced by Pope's love of cartoonists Milton Caniff and Hugo Pratt, and of Japanese manga); and a thoroughly tongue-in-cheek view of Escapo's brand of inadvertent heroism allows him to unpretentiously juggle his grand themes. Pope has created an unusual kind of comic book hero here, a very reluctant fellow forced to confront both the futility of love and the possibility of his own melodramatic death. The book also includes an essay on Pope, another (short) fiction and an index to his other works. (Dec.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
School Library Journal
YA-A circus performer, the offspring of parents who apparently escaped separation at the hands of some malignant force, loses his nerve. Pope tells this simple story of the Houdiniesque character in sequences that range from watercolor pages to broadly black-inked panels to pages containing black-and-white panels of sharper draft quality. The front matter, which explains graphic-novel literacy, and the opening sequence recounting Escapo's parents' adventure leave readers expecting more narrative substance from the remainder of the volume. In short, Escapo wants girl, Escapo might get girl, Escapo regains nerve instead. The brevity and forthrightness will attract some aliterate teens.-Francisca Goldsmith, Berkeley Public Library, CA Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.