“Artists at the top of their game, or not” / The Miami Herald / Richard Pachter / February 28, 2012

Reminding readers that apparently stuffy literary figures were also supposed to be quite human, New Yorker cartoonist Beaton’s sly and often rude humor propels this anarchic collection of her hysterical historical ruminations. Aiming at culture high and low, she deftly skewers everyone from the Brontes to Ben Franklin to Nancy Drew. Rarely subtle, often over the top, Beaton’s simple but expressive art helps make its mark without ever obscuring the target.

Pure Pajamas. Marc Bell. Drawn & Quarterly. 96 pages. $22.95.

Canadian Bell’s strips have an early Crumb-like joie de vivre (with a dash of Julie Doucet) but he veers off the path of sexual angst and frustration and charges full speed ahead toward a strange land of hallucinations and absurdity. This collection gathers most of his regular jaunts into silliness and unruly lunacy. Other than a few naughty words and situations, Bell’s love of language and imagery would make him ideal for children, but grownups, too, will howl at his relentlessly ingenious words and images.

Jinchalo. Matthew Forsythe. Drawn & Quarterly. 120 pages. $17.95.

A collection of mostly mute fables of shape-shifters and hungry beasts, this sweet little volume, based on Korean folk tales, is wistful and whimsical. Forsythe’s lithe line work nicely complements the dreamy mis en scene. He’s a terrifically skilled artist, and this smartly understated performance adds to the charm and potency of his presentation.

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