Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Top 20 of 2007: #17 Madman Gargantua!

I'm seeing a pattern here. Thick, fancy hardcover collections are ruling the high teens on my 2007 list, but what's wrong with that? I love thick, fancy hardcovers, especially when they pull together the earliest Madman series along with the entire Dark Horse run.

Madman Gargantua! wasn't on my "must buy" list when it was first announced in 2006, but after the book was initially delayed, and the more I thought about owning all those stories under a single set of covers, I couldn't stop myself from clicking the Buy It Now button on Amazon. I wasn't disappointed.

As I wrote about this summer, Madman is, contrary to popular reception, Michael Allred's exploration of deep, religious themes. While the reputation of Allred's work is that he writes these zany, "ginchy" stories about weird, wacky characters with a goofy Silver Age sensibility, if you actually sit down and read Madman Gargantua! in a single sitting (or, as I did, over two days), you'll recognize that the book is a series of metaphysical questions which just happen to be explored using weird, wacky characters with a Silver Age sensibility. But the metaphysical questions drive the stories, without a doubt.

Unlike the other Absolute and Omnibus editions out there which feature creators at the top of their game, Madman Gargantua shows the development of Michael Allred's style and voice. The early Tundra series are quite different in look and tone than the Dark Horse run, and it's fascinating to see Allred develop as a creator even while he continues to explore serious questions about the nature of identity and reality. You all know, by now, that Allred is a major talent in the comic book world, and Madman is his still-unfinished masterpiece. But a large chunk of that masterpiece comprises this book, and it's astounding.

Read it.

1 comment:

Marc Caputo said...

I was on the fence with this one as well. And now I think I've put myself in a quandary because now the Don Martin collection is out, competing for the birthday spot.

I already have the Far Side and Calvin and Hobbes child-weights (yes, my older one got pinned by the Far Side two Christmases ago.) and my Peanuts collection is a twice-yearly ritual.