The Boulevard of Broken Dreams
by Kim Deitch
hardcover; 192 pages
"At last, the general public will be allowed to discover one of the best-kept secrets in comics for the past thirty-five years. Kim Deitch has created a private world as fully realized in its own way as Faulkner's. He's an American original, a spinner of yarns whose beautifully structured pages and intricate plots conjure up a haunting and haunted American past."
Review by Yakov Chodosh
Kim Deitch has been working in underground and alternative comics since the 1960's. Over that time, he has created a body of work that places him as one of the "all-time greats," according to Art Spiegelman. Every story, drawing, and illustrated text in Deitch's oevure weaves itself into an overarching narrative of incredible scope. Although Deitch's world includes midgets, circus freaks, extraterrestrials, and demons, his stories are, above all, driven by his characters. Jim Woodring writes, "The more he draws, the more we see of previously unsuspected relationships between characters and events, relationships that go forward and backward in time and which cross the borders of many different realms which are gradually revealed to be different aspects of the same reality."
Waldo is a blue cartoon cat, patterned after character designs from 1920's cartoons. Waldo's relationship to reality is complex. Like Mr. O'Malley from the 40's strip Barnaby, he exists "kind of on the edge of things" and is only visible to certain people. He is, according to a model sheet, "a bad ass... smart, lazy... thoroughly corrupt... occasionally guilty of an act of kindness," like an urban Bugs Bunny. Ted Mishkin, a visionary animator at the Fontaine Fables with alcohol problems, is the only person who sees Waldo (until a pivotal scene in The Mishkin File, which I won't give away). He has a crush on his coworker, Lillian Freer, who is secretly sleeping with his brother, Al Mishkin. Fred Fontaine and Al run the studio. Other characters are Winsor Newton, a Winsor McCay-esque character, who instructs and inspires Ted and Lillian; Jack Shick, the new executive in charge of "changing the look" to a corny Disney style; and Nate Mishkin, Al's estranged son, who is an alcoholic adult in Waldo World. Waldo the cat is present throughout the narrative, as is his complex relationship with Ted and Nate Mishkin.
Because of many recent works by such artists as R. Crumb, Seth, Julie Doucet, Chester Brown and Joe Matt to name a few, many readers have stereotyped alternative comics as a field dominated by self-absorbed, confessional autobiographers who have nothing to talk about besides their boyfriends, crappy jobs, and private fantasies. Kim Deitch, however, does not come close to fitting into that category. His wholly fictional story runs from the 1910s until 1994, and it includes, as Waldo World #1's cover states, "Comedy! Romance! Adventure!" in the style of 1920's movies (which appear in the backgrounds on some of the pages) or magazine serials. Jim Woodring calls the title story a "masterpiece" that contains "one of the most frighteningly effective emotional climaxes ever achieved in the medium."
Kim Deitch's art deserves an essay in itself. His use of parallel lines for shading may take a little effort for the reader, but once you are in, you will wonder how you ever thought it was hard to read or unclear. Thoughts are made clear by the facial expressions. His style is strongly influenced by old Fleisher cartoons; panels can include up to fifteen individual faces, all belonging to characters with their own evident personalities. And his layouts are some of the most innovative that have ever been seen in comics, but his innovations always exist to tell the story.
The stories collected in this book are "The Boulevard of Broken Dreams," "The Mishkin File," and "Waldo World," all originally printed in the early 90's in various publications (see our Kim Deitch Bibliography).
The book itself promises to be a splendid edition. Chip Kidd has reported on the TCJ Message Boards that the stories were revised and appended with a full twenty pages of new and unreleased material. Kidd and Deitch collaborated on the covers and design. With any luck, this Pantheon volume will bring some much-deserved, overdue attention to the work of a man whom Art Spiegelman calls, "the best-kept secret in the avant-comix world." Buy it!
retail price - $21.00
copacetic price - $17.85
To discover more comics by Deitch, check out our Kim Deitch Bibliography (It's far from complete, but there's more than enough to sink your eye-teeth into.)
Price and availability current as of 15 October 2005
and should still be correct now; contact us to be sure.
Kim Deitch (born May 21, 1944 in Los Angeles) is an Americancartoonist who was an important figure in the underground comix movement of the 1960s, remaining active in the decades that followed with a variety of books and comics, sometimes using the pseudonym Fowlton Means.
Much of Kim Deitch's work deals with the animation industry and characters from the world of cartoons. His best-known character is a mysterious cat named Waldo, who appears variously as a famous cartoon character of the 1930s, as an actual character in the "reality" of the strips, as the hallucination of a hopeless alcoholic surnamed Mishkin (a victim of the Boulevard of Broken Dreams), as the demonic reincarnation of Judas Iscariot; and who, occasionally, is claimed to have overcome Deitch and written the comics himself. Waldo's appearance is reminiscent of such black cat characters as Felix the Cat, Julius the Cat, and Krazy Kat.
The son of illustrator and animatorGene Deitch, Kim Deitch has sometimes worked with his brothers Simon Deitch and Seth Deitch.
Deitch's influences include Winsor McCay, Chester Gould, Jack Cole, and Will Eisner; he attended the Pratt Institute. Before deciding to become a professional cartoonist, Deitch worked odd jobs and did manual labor, including with the merchant marine. Searching for a path, he at one point joined the Republican Party; at another point he became devotee of Hatha yoga.
Deitch regularly contributed comical, psychedelia-tinged comic strips (featuring the flower child "Sunshine Girl" and "The India Rubber Man") to New York City's premier underground newspaper, the East Village Other, beginning in 1967. He joined Bhob Stewart as an editor of EVO's all-comics spin-off, Gothic Blimp Works, in 1969. During this period, he lived with fellow cartoonist Spain Rodriguez in a sixth-floor walk-up apartment in New York's East Village.
Deitch was also a publisher, as co-founder of the Cartoonists Co-Op Press, a publishing venture by Deitch, Jay Lynch, Bill Griffith, Jerry Lane, Willy Murphy, Diane Noomin, and Art Spiegelman that operated in 1973–1974.
Deitch's The Boulevard of Broken Dreams was chosen by Time magazine in 2005 as one of the 100 best English-language graphic novels ever written. In 2008, the Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art featured a retrospective exhibition of his work.
From his first marriage, to cartoonist and author Trina Robbins, Deitch has a daughter, Casey. Through most of the 1970s, Deitch was in an 11-year relationship with animator Sally Cruikshank. He met Pam Butler in 1994 and they subsequently married.
Deitch won the 2003 Eisner Award for Best Single Issue/Story for The Stuff of Dreams (Fantagraphics) and in 2008 he was awarded an Inkpot Award. In 2014, he was nominated for the Ignatz Award for Outstanding Graphic Novel for The Amazing, Enlightening and Absolutely True Adventures of Katherine Whaley.
Creator series and books
- Books arranged in order by original published date (publication date shown first, then title, publisher, number of pages, date drawn, and availability). OOP = Out Of Print.
- 2013 Amazing Katherine Whaley (Fantagraphics, 176 pg) Hardback
- 2010 The Search for Smilin' Ed (Fantagraphics, 162 pg) — serialized in Zero Zero beginning in 1999
- 2007 Deitch's Pictorama (Fantagraphics, 184 pg) — co-authored with Simon Deitch and Seth Kallen Deitch; includes 78-pg "Sunshine Girl"
- 2006 Shadowland (Fantagraphics, 182 pg) — 10 stories (OOP)
- 2002 The Stuff of Dreams (Fantagraphics, 136 pg) — original OOP; re-released by Pantheon as a hardback in 2007 as Alias the Cat!
- 1993 The Mishkin File! (Fantagraphics, 32 pg) original OOP; reprinted in The Boulevard of Broken Dreams (Pantheon 2002)
- 1992 All Waldo Comics (Fantagraphics, 60 pg) — 5 Waldo stories published from 1969-1988 (OOP)
- 1991 The Boulevard of Broken Dreams (original published in Raw [OOP]; re-released by Pantheon as a hardback in 2002, 160 pg) — with Simon Deitch
- 1990 A Shroud for Waldo (Fantagraphics, 158 pg)
- 1989 Beyond the Pale (Fantagraphics, 136 pg) — 22 stories produced from 1969-1984 (OOP)
- 1988 Hollywoodland (Fantagraphics, 76 pg) — 1984 story (OOP)
- 1988 No Business Like Show Business (3-D Zone)
- 1972–1973 Corn Fed Comics (Honeywell & Todd and Cartoonists Co-Op Press, 2 issues)
Publications appeared in
- ^Perkins, Lucas W. "Oral history interview with Kim Deitch, 2007-2009" (Oct. 7, 2007 and June 28, 2009). Archived at Columbia University.
- ^ abDeitch, Kim. "Mad About Music: My Life in Records: Part 10: Cartoon Tunes,"The Comics Journal (SEP. 9, 2011).
- ^ abcBails, Jerry; Hames Ware. "Kim Deitch". Who's Who of American Comic Books 1928-1999. Archived from the original on September 5, 2015. Retrieved November 12, 2013.
- ^ abcDonahue, Don and Susan Goodrick, editors. Deitch bio, The Apex Treasuet of Underground Comics (Apex Novelties, 1974), p. 127.
- ^ abKim Deitch at the Lambiek Comiclopedia. Retrieved on November 12, 2013. Archived from the original on September 7, 2013.
- ^Kelly, James; Lev Grossman; Richard Lacayo (October 16, 2005). "Time's List of the 100 Best Novels (1923–2005)". Time.
- ^Beck, Jerry. "Kim Deitch at MoCCA," Cartoon Brew (Sept. 2, 2008).
- ^ abMurphyao, Amanda, in Booker, M. Keith, ed. (2014). "Deitch, Kim (1944- )". Comics through Time: A History of Icons, Idols, and Ideas. Greenwood. ISBN 978-0313397509.
- ^"2003 Eisner Awards For works published in 2002". San Diego Comic-Con International. Archived from the original on 2011-04-27. Retrieved 2011-06-09.
- ^Canva, Michael (August 18, 2014). "SMALL PRESS EXPO: Here are your nominees for the 2014 SPX Ignatz Awards…". The Washington Post. Retrieved 18 August 2014.
- ^Fantagraphics list, last page of Smilin' Ed