The Toronto Star calls MASTERPIECE COMICS "delicious"

“Beavis and Butthead do Vladimir and Estragon; R. Sikoryak's wacky notion of combining classics and comics works surprisingly well” / The Toronto Star / Jonathan Kuehlein / January 5, 2010

R. (for Robert) Sikoryak has blended the fine wine with the beer - and the result is delicious.

At first glance, the melding of subjects in Sikoryak's Masterpiece Comics (Drawn & Quarterly, 64 pages, $24.95) - some of the finest works literature has to offer are folded into mainstream comic titles and strips - seems simply ludicrous, worthy of only a few titters at the outlandishness of it all.

The likes of Kafka, Voltaire, Dostoyevsky and Wilde are the Bordeaux in this unlikely melange. Newspaper strips such as Garfield, Peanuts, Ziggy and Blondie, plus such comic series as Batman, are the Budweiser.

This may sound like a mess in the making, but it's amazing how well it all goes together.

What makes Sikoryak's fusion succeed is his canny ability to find ideal matches of 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 manages to flow together seamlessly, somehow pushing past the initial absurdity to present 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.

Vertigo is pulling out a pair of big guns to get the lead flying on its provocative new crime imprint.

Dark Entries (Vertigo Crime, 216 pages, $24.99), a supernatural mystery set against the twisted world of reality TV, featuring Vertigo mainstay John Constantine, is written by Scottish noir master Ian Rankin. The gritty black-and-white art by Werther Dell'Edera, best known for his work on Vertigo's western, Loveless, fits the mood set by Rankin's Edgar Award-winning Resurrection Men to a T.

Brian Azzarello, who established himself as one of the best writers in comics with his Eisner Award-winning Vertigo series 100 Bullets, pens Filthy Rich (Vertigo Crime, 200 pages, $24.99), a noir that follows a former football star's descent into a seedy world of sex, drugs and violence after becoming personal bodyguard for his rich boss's daughter. Spanish star Victor Santos provides the lush, inky Frank Miller-esque art.

Vertigo Crime promises to keep rolling out the heavy artillery, with upcoming releases from Denise Mina, Scottish author of the popular Paddy Meehan novels; Waterloo native Jon Evans, award-winning writer of Dark Place; and American Jason Starr, an award winner for Twisted City.

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