Saturday, March 9, 2013

I Reads You Review: KINGS IN DISGUISE #2


WRITER: James Vance – @authorjvance
ARTIST: Dan Burr
INKS ASST.: Debbie Freiberg
COVER: Harvey Kurtzman and Peter Poplaski
32pp, B&W, $2.00 U.S., $2.60 CAN (May 1988)

Kings in Disguise was a six-issue comic book miniseries, published in 1988 by Kitchen Sink Press. Created by writer Jim Vance and artist Dan Burr, Kings in Disguise was a highly acclaimed comic book, drawing praise from such comic book luminaries as Alan Moore, Will Eisner, Harvey Kurtzman and Art Spiegelman.

Kings in Disguise is set during the Great Depression. The story follows 13-year-old Manfred “Freddie” Bloch, a Jewish boy from the fictional town of Marian, California. His father becomes a victim of the Depression when he loses his job, and he subsequently abandons his sons. Freddie’s brother, Al, runs afoul of the law, leaving the boy alone.

Freddie takes to the rails – traveling the country by train as a hobo – where he meets Sammy. Calling himself “the King of Spain,” Sammy is a sickly, older hobo who takes Freddie under his wing. Together, they travel through a scarred America, searching for Freddie's father.

Kings in Disguise #2 opens after a stranger saves Freddie from the crazed hobo, Joker. Who is Freddie’s savior? Why, it is none other than Sammy, the King of Spain. Freddie discovers, however, that King Sammy is unstable. Though he is affable, Sammy could be friend, foe, or even annoyance.

Kings in Disguise has an attention to detail that results when a writer and artist are two separate individuals who can come together to become essentially one creative voice, sharing a singular vision. As a writer, James Vance is both human and humane. As an artist, Dan Burr has an old-fashioned sensibility that uses the bells and whistles of black and white magazine illustration to create texture and veracity. Ink turns the interplay of black and white space into graphics and images that are solid, so this world Burr draws has verisimilitude. Solidity births that which seems like something genuine to the reader, encouragement to buy into the world of Kings in Disguise.

Kings in Disguise is a great American story of true grit. It is easy to see why Kings in Disguise is considered one of the greatest graphic novels of all time.


Harvey Awards
Best New Series
1989 Kings in Disguise, by James Vance and Dan Burr (Kitchen Sink Press)

Eisner Awards:
Best Single Issue/Single Story
1989 Kings in Disguise #1, by James Vance and Dan Burr (Kitchen Sink)

Best New Series
1989 Kings In Disguise, by James Vance and Dan Burr (Kitchen Sink)

Reviewed by Leroy Douresseaux

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