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A long-gone children?s show host propels Kim Deitch into another pop-culture investigation!
Originally created in 1997 and 1998 for the underground anthology Zero Zero, The Search for Smilin? Ed! is the latest of Kim Deitch?s graphic novels to showcase his obsessive burrowing into the nooks and crannies of vintage American popular culture.
Where Boulevard of Broken Dreams focused on the earliest days of the animation industry, Alias the Cat ...
A long-gone children’s show host propels Kim Deitch into another pop-culture investigation!
Originally created in 1997 and 1998 for the underground anthology Zero Zero, The Search for Smilin’ Ed! is the latest of Kim Deitch’s graphic novels to showcase his obsessive burrowing into the nooks and crannies of vintage American popular culture.
Where Boulevard of Broken Dreams focused on the earliest days of the animation industry, Alias the Cat delved into the history of comic strips, and “Molly O’Dare” (collected in Shadowland) concerned vintage movie serials, The search for Smilin’ Ed! explores the wacky world of children’s TV shows.
Launched on his latest investigation by a remark from his brother about a shared childhood favorite (“Y’know, I heard that when Smilin’ Ed died... his body was never found!”), Deitch begins to uncover some truly amazing things about the kiddie-show host and his malevolent sidekick, Froggy the Gremlin. Meanwhile, Deitch’s muse and nemesis Waldo the Cat abandons Deitch to hang out with some demon buddies, and soon both Waldo and Deitch are closing in on the mysteries of Smilin’ Ed and Froggy.
Ranging across the entire twentieth century, replete with flashbacks, stories within stories, and guest appearances from other Deitch regulars, The Search for Smilin’ Ed! is a narrative whirligig that shows Deitch at his wildest and woolliest. For those whose heads have started to spin at the complexity of “Deitch world,” Deitch scholar Bill Kartalopoulos offers a lengthy essay on the ins and outs of this ever-evolving, ever-expanding world where fantasy, reality, and satire combine, clash, and are sometimes downright indistinguishable.
Bonus! Deitch has also created a brand new story starring Waldo in his twenty-first century post-Alias The Cat state of domestic bliss, stumbling across an army of (French-) talking beavers. Of course, there’s a story behind that...
Posted May 16, 2010
Kim Deitch has outdone himself with his newest release, The Search for Smilin' Ed, further cementing his position as one of the luminaries of graphic fiction. Unlike some of his contemporaries whose production has slowed or softened, Deitch continues to mine deeply the disturbed veins of his characters' aberrant lives, parallel worlds inhabited by low-grade demonic creatures, and a bizarre shifting dimension where the human and demonic realms sometimes overlap.
Deitch is one of the most literary artist of the genre, as much surrealist fiction writer as he is cartoonist. His gift for complex storytelling is aided by his liberal use of shifts in time and narrative framing devices, all of which are employed so naturally as to move the strands of each story without calling attention to the device.
The Search for Smilin' Ed is a beautifully bizarre tale that spirals out of orbit, but never out of control, populated with both lovable and loathsome characters. Deitch is masterful at giving the reader glimpses of equal portions of delusion and a highly ordered netherworld, artfully blurring our notion of which is the actual reality. The hallucinatory sheen that Deitch drapes around this story is truly masterful. Another instant classic from Kim Deitch.