by Sean Bieri
Montreal publisher Drawn and Quarterly’s anthology has long been more than a periodical collection of comics. D&Q is a resource, a rich repository for work by some of North America’s best cartoonists and illustrators, as well as for English-language versions of comics by Europe’s leading talents and reprints of hard-to-find older works.
Volume 3 is D&Q’s largest yet, 175 pages of two-tone and full-color art on bright stock, with matte finish covers illustrated by “Acme Novelty Library” artist Chris Ware. Ware also does a short bio of Frank King, creator of the seminal but seldom reprinted newspaper strip “Gasoline Alley.” Thirty of King’s lush, formally inventive and contemplative Sunday comics are collected here, plus a 1959 magazine article by King about the strip’s evolution. The “Gasoline” material merits its own book, but here it’s only the delicious final course in a sumptuous banquet.
Holding down the front of the book is a 56-page story by France’s Dupuy and Berberian featuring “Monsieur Jean,” a middle-class Parisian writer coping with friends, kids, his girlfriend and his changing life. It’s as accessible and satisfying as a good Woody Allen film. Why isn’t more of this stuff being made available in English!?
Rounding out the book: intimate stories from Finland’s Pentti Otsamo and Quebec’s Michel Rabagliati; a piece by Frenchman Hincker Blutch about the racism that permeated boxing in its early years; watercolor character studies from the sketchbook of “Palookaville” artist Seth; Bob Sikoryak’s hilarious retelling of Crime and Punishment in the style of a 1940s Batman comic, and lots more. D&Q Vol. 3 is both a filling feast and a frustrating appetizer that leaves the reader hungry for more comics of this quality.