Kings in Disguise

Kings in Disguise

by James Vance, Dan Burr

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"One of the most moving and compelling human stories to emerge out of the graphic story medium."—Alan Moore


"One of the most moving and compelling human stories to emerge out of the graphic story medium."—Alan Moore

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
It's 1932, the height of the Depression, in Marian, Calif. The Bloch family is teetering on the brink of dissolution. Mr. Bloch, widowed and alcoholic, can't or won't find work. Teenage son Albert has lost respect for him and 12-year-old Freddie, mesmerized by Hollywood movies, is too young to comprehend the social forces that are rending the fabric of his life. After the father disappears and Albert is injured trying to steal money for food, Freddie, suddenly alone, heads for his father's last known address in Detroit. He's befriended by Sammy (who calls himself ``the King of Spain''), a troubled and sickly vagabond who teaches him how to survive as a hobo, coping with hunger and the danger of riding the freight trains. The two develop a deeply felt attachment as they travel together, braving labor riots and anti-Semitism. Advancing classic themes, Vance's Harvey Award-winning story of a young man forced to become an adult is touching. Burr's black-and-white drawings are crisply rendered and abound in historical details. This collaboration by two newcomers is an outstanding example of mature comic book storytelling. (Sept.)
Library Journal
This moving story set in the depths of the Great Depression, originally published in book form in 1990 by the now-defunct Kitchen Sink Press, won two Eisner Awards and a Harvey Award. When 12-year-old Freddie's long-out-of-work father leaves home to look for a job, Freddie's older brother Al tries to fill his shoes. But when Al is arrested, Freddie leaves home to look for their father and quickly finds himself living the life of a hobo, riding the rails under the watchful eye of a drifter who calls himself the King of Spain. On his search, Freddie watches and helps as the jobless rally to demand a better life-or try to build that life themselves-all the while dogged by injustice and tragedy in a world that shuns and oppresses them. Vance's remarkable ear for realistic dialog is ideally matched by Barr's naturalistic artwork. This story is a window into the lives of the poor and dispossessed of the time: their desperation and madness, their care for each other, and their human desires for community, security, and dignity. In its depth, sweep, and detail, this is the equivalent of a classic prose novel; strongly recommended for all adult collections. Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
School Library Journal
YA-- The story a young man's adventures and coming of age during the Great Depression. Freddie Bloch, alone at 13, rides the rails across the country in search of his father. Along the way, he encounters the best and worst mankind has to offer. Freddie sees an anguished nation divided, the haves against the have-nots. He and his hobo friend, the so-called King of Spain, try to get along in a country in which many citizens have lost their human decency in a struggle for survival. Although the two survive violent attacks by crazed bums, brutal police, and ignorant townspeople, they maintain hope because of the kindnesses shown to them by a few citizens. YAs will be captivated by the unique format of this graphic novel. Vance's story, coupled with Burr's haunting black-and-white illustrations, gives a frightening picture of what happens to ordinary people in a nation gone mad.-- Phillip Clark, R. E. Lee High School, Springfield, VA
Art Spiegelman
“Wonderful, earnest storytelling . . . a book made by intelligent, caring human hands.”
Ron Evry - Fantagraphics Best Comics of All Time
“Utterly masterful.”
Max Allan Collins
“The best case yet that a mainstream novel can be told in comics form.”

Product Details

Kitchen Sink Press, Inc.
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
8.45(w) x 10.88(h) x 0.47(d)

Meet the Author

James Vance has written scripts for The Crow, The Spirit, and other popular comics. He lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Dan E. Burr has been an illustrator for DC Comics’s Big Book Series. He lives in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Alan Moore is a magician and performer, and is widely regarded as the best and most influential writer in the history of comics. His seminal works include From Hell, V for Vendetta, and Watchmen, for which he won the Hugo Award. He was born in 1953 in Northampton, UK, and has lived there ever since.

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