Masterpiece Comics

October 19, 2009 | Graphic novels

R. Sikoryak has blended Bordeaux with Budweiser — and it is delicious.

At first glance, the melding of subjects in Sikoryak’s Masterpiece Comics (Drawn & Quarterly, $24.95, 64 pages) — some of the finest works literature has to offer with mainstream comic books and strips — seems simply ludicrous, worthy of only a few titters at its outlandishness.

But consider that the best works of the likes of Kafka, Voltaire, Dostoyevsky and Wilde are the Bordeaux — something that is easily accessible, but that not everyone takes the time to truly appreciate — and that newspaper strips like Garfield, Peanuts, Ziggy and Blondie and comic series like Batman are the Budweiser — requiring a less educated palate and enjoyed by a much more diverse audience. Both are equally good and worthy in their own right and since there’s nothing wrong with partaking of them separately, why can’t they be enjoyed together?

What makes Sikoryak’s fine fusion work so well is how he’s able to find such ideal matches between classics and strips.

Candiggy, a two-page piece featuring Ziggy in Voltaire’s Candide perfectly captures the acknowledged angst of Tom Wilson’s little, bald strip star, while also highlighting the inherent cynicism of the French master’s work. Good Ol’ Gregor Brown, with Charlie Brown starring as a boy transformed into an insect a la Franz Kafka’s The Metamorphosis also seems to flow together seamlessly, somehow pushing past the initial absurdity and presenting the most identifiable qualities of both the Peanuts star and tortured salesman, Gregor Samsa.

The very best of Masterpiece Comics is “Waiting To Go” starring Mike Judge’s Beavis and Butthead as Vladimir and Estragon in Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot. In one simple page, Sikoryak absolutely nails the essence of both the timeless play and the snickering cartoon slackers.

(This review first appeared in the Toronto Star)

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