by Dylan Horrocks
Originally published in 1998, Hicksville has entered that rarefied field of classic graphic novel (though the author prefers the more direct comic book). It tells the story of an American journalist who, in trying to write a biography of Dick Burger, the world’s most successful comic-book artist, finds himself in Burger’s hometown, the eponymous Hicksville. Located in the far reaches of New Zealand, Hicksville is a strange and beguiling place where the entire populace are comic book aficionados – yet all are resistant to talking about the legendary Burger.
Horrocks speaks of Hicksville as being about the truth of what comics have represented, “An industry that, for the most part, robbed artists of the chance of doing their real work. An industry that forced great cartoonists to waste their talents hacking out insipid stories for a half interested audience.” But as dark as that sounds Hicksville is a love story about the comic medium; heartfelt, funny and intelligent with a mature and subtle style, shifting as needed to encompass the full spectrum of the medium.
It is a beautiful and sometimes heartbreaking homage to what comics are and what they could have been. Republished by VUP, this is an important work that draws to it, easily and naturally, all who invest importance in comics as an art-form. It is hard not to recommend it unreservedly.
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