On June 9th, Dark Horse Publishing will be releasing a study of the life and works of comic publishing master and underground comix legend Denis Kitchen. This nearly 200 page, hardback volume is a wonderful tribute to a man who helped set the stage for the modern independent publisher, and we got a quick sneak.

OddlyCompelling_Cover.jpgTitle:  The Oddly Compelling Art of Denis Kitchen
Introduction: Neil Gaiman
Essay: Charles Brownstein
Art Captions: Dennis Kitchen
Format: Hardback
ISBN: 1-59582-360-3
Diamond Code: FEB100040
Release Date: June 9th, 2010

The Oddly Compelling Art of Denis Kitchen, from Dark Horse Publishing, is one of those must reads for budding students of comic history. For those of you who are not in the know, Denis Kitchen is considered a pioneer in the world of not only comic publishing, but in the world of underground and independent comic art and creation. While underground legends like Crumb and Shelton are almost household names, it is surprising to see how many of the younger generation think that Dennis Kitchen just ran Kitchen Sink Press, or sometimes not even that. This volume, weighing in at around 200 pages, is a massive educational experience for the masses.

We start off with an entertaining introduction from Neil Gaiman as he remembers how he was introduced to the work of Denis Kitchen and then introduced to the man and artist Denis Kitchen.  Gaiman has always had a near magical quality to his prose work, it sort of gathers you up and takes you away, and this little introduction is no exception. Many introductions are just little blurbs that are churned out almost like an assignment, but this is very entertaining and you realize that he really knows this man, and considers him a friend.

Next, we have an around 40 page essay by Charles Brownstein which details the beginnings of Denis Kitchen as a young man and artist and through his activities as early as 2009. Imagine a forty or so page biography of a man who is so much bigger than forty pages. It reads like the adventure of a young man finding himself in the shadow of a nation that was in the middle of trying to redefine itself. From the stories of his time at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee to his narrowly dodging being sent to Vietnam and his introduction into the underground comic movement, it is all just a roller coaster; a big fun ride that at times seems a little bleak and scary, but at the same time makes you happy to be there.  Denis Kitchen’s story also reads like a history of the underground comics’ scene, and there are some interesting thread connections though out this volume. Learn some of his relationships with the big publishers before and after the groundbreaking Kitchen Sink Press, and enough stories to choke a horse.  Original art, photographs, and a virtual plethora of history are crammed into this book. If that was not enough, you also get around 150 pages of art from Kitchen’s with captions by the creator himself. These range from photos of the man and his fellows to reprints of flyers, stories, covers, posters, just a real archive of work, and most all of it features comments by Kitchen himself.

Now, there is a warning that needs to go with this. This book is not for minors! There are artistic depictions of nudity, drug use and all sorts of things that minor need not be exposed to. As an adult though, it is a great read that is educational as well as entertaining. You really find yourself learning a good deal of great history, and the artistic lessons to be gleamed from browsing his work are endless, for artist and writers. There is some great vintage art in this volume, and it is amazing to read how much of it came to be.

With a release date of June 9th, The Oddly Compelling Art of Denis Kitchen from Dark Horse Comics is  a major work and a must have for comic aficionados. That said, the subject matter is not for everyone, but from a historical and educational stance, it deserves to grace the bookshelves besides the classics.  Kitchen is shown to be a man who cares about comics from all sides of the table, and this is a great chance to learn some of the history from a man who helped make it.

Rating: ★★★★☆

The Author

Stacy Baugher

Stacy Baugher

Back in February of 2008, Stacy Baugher wrote his first article for Major Spoilers and started a solid run of work that would last for over two years. He wrote the first series of Comic Casting Couch articles as well as multiple Golden Age Hero Histories, reviews and commentaries. After taking a hiatus from all things fandom he has returned to the Major Spoilers fold.

He can currently be found on his blog, www.stacybaugher.com , were he post progress on his fiction work as well as his photography and life in general, and on Twitter under the handle @stacybaugher . If you're of a mind, he also takes on all comers with the under the Xbox Live Gamertag, Lost Hours.

He currently lives in Clinton, Mississippi with his understanding wife, and two kids.

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