The Search for Smilin' Ed

( 1 )

Overview

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 ...

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Overview

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...

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Originally serialized in the late ‘90s, this cartwheeling shaggy-dog story begins, like a lot of metafiction, with the semblance of reality: Deitch narrates the beginning as the tale of what happened when he looked into the fate of the host of one of his favorite TV shows from his youth, “Smilin’ Ed’s Gang.” But by the time a frog demon reanimates a 19th-century French peasant whose brains it has eaten, it’s fairly clear that Deitch is making stuff up. The fun of the book is the way it constantly darts back and forth across the line between genuine show-business lore (a favorite Deitch theme) and delirious whole-cloth invention. There are stories within stories, unreliable explainers, secret passageways that lead from one part of the tale to another. Deitch’s artwork often seems stiff and busy--there’s scarcely a patch of blank space or foursquare page layout in the entire book--but it’s also utterly confident, building on the stylistic gestures of both the underground-comics scene that launched his career and the classic animation that inspired his talking-animal characters. For this edition, Deitch has added some new material, including an epilogue that throws a few more loops into his Byzantine personal mythology. (June)
Booklist
Maybe even more than fellow first-wave underground comics creator Crumb, Deitch has maintained his quality. Marvelous stuff.— Ray Olson
The Comics Reporter
A major collection from an A-List comics talent. This time out the great Kim Deitch examines the nature of entertainment through the ways audiences encounter, process and recall it. The joyful image-making couldn't be more entertaining to drink in.— Tom Spurgeon
The Onion A.V. Club
“The story gets more twisted with every page, though it always makes sense in a Deitch-ian way. Deitch... retains an astonishing ability to tap into the deepest desires of pop-culture junkies, and to show how the satisfaction we seek from nostalgia can lead us to some dark corners of our collective showbiz past.”
Comic Book Resources
Deitch has a grand time twisting the way reality presents itself, bringing together his entire career in cartooning so that it all exists in the same odd universe. Deitch's intricate artwork completes this surreal adventure — it's an astonishing piece of detailed work.— Greg Burgas
The Los Angeles Times
The story booms with Deitch's explosive composition techniques and the narrative recoil — somehow even the genetically modified beavers here make perfect sense — is no less compelling.— John Reed
Chad Derdowski - Mania
“[C]losely resembles a bad acid trip I had several years back while watching Howdy Doody, old Fleischer cartoons and listening to Art Bell on Coast to Coast AM.... and I mean that in the most complimentary way possible.”
Ray Olson - Booklist
“Maybe even more than fellow first-wave underground comics creator Crumb, Deitch has maintained his quality. Marvelous stuff.”
John Seven - Reverse Direction
“[A] massive comedic epic of demonic possession and ventriloquism… [Deitch's] wacky cartoon art style reveals a complex universe that meditates on the nature of reality itself, and your personal place within it as filtered through the isolated impressions of your own brain.”
Tom Spurgeon - The Comics Reporter
“A major collection from an A-List comics talent. This time out the great Kim Deitch examines the nature of entertainment through the ways audiences encounter, process and recall it. The joyful image-making couldn't be more entertaining to drink in.”
Greg Burgas - Comic Book Resources
“Deitch has a grand time twisting the way reality presents itself, bringing together his entire career in cartooning so that it all exists in the same odd universe. Deitch's intricate artwork completes this surreal adventure — it's an astonishing piece of detailed work.”
Brian Heater - The Daily Cross Hatch
“The Search for Smilin’ Ed serves as a multi-layered expansion of Deitch's already decidedly complex universe… [I]t’s nearly impossible not to be sucked in, as Deitch digs deeper and deeper into his own seedy universe.”
John Reed - The Los Angeles Times
“The story booms with Deitch's explosive composition techniques and the narrative recoil — somehow even the genetically modified beavers here make perfect sense — is no less compelling.”
Collin David - Graphic Novel Reporter
“[A] complex universe of ghosts, aliens, demons, puppets, spiritual leaders, and complicated animal characters…, and in the tradition of Vonnegut, Deitch occasionally places himself in the middle of his own madness. If that sounds a bit meta, that’s only the barest tip of the squirmy, lascivious iceberg that Deitch has planned for you.”
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781606993248
  • Publisher: Fantagraphics Books
  • Publication date: 6/22/2010
  • Pages: 144
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.70 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Kim Deitch lives in New York, NY, with his wife, the artist Pamela Butler. His books include The Boulevard of Broken Dreams, Deitch's Pictorama, Shadowland, Alias the Cat, A Shroud for Waldo, and The Search for Smilin' Ed!

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted May 16, 2010

    Another instant classic from Kim Deitch

    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.

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