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The House at Maakies Corner
By Tony Millionaire
Published by Fantagraphics Books

One of the things -- the only thing I hate about James Kochalka's Sketchbook Diaries is the format, which places multiple daily strips on a single page. The House at Maakies Corner is perhaps the best presentation of a daily strip that I've ever seen, a long, horizontally-formatted hardcover presenting each strip on a single page. Artistically, you could not ask for a better presentation. I understand that, in the case of Kochalka, economics play a role, and certainly The House at Maakies Corner is a more expensive book, but...this is exactly how it should be done.

There's a bit of irony, then, that the book suffered some production problems. As you might have heard, the entire run of books suffers from minor scuffing of the covers, and there was apparently a problem with the glue that binds the pages to the covers. My copy had slightly glued-together endpages that I was able to pry away from the following pages without tearing the book. The overall effect of this minor damage lends an antiquated feel, which plays perfectly into Millionaire's mannered style -- so much so that he is reportedly amused enough by this printing snafu to have designed special stickers highlighting the "antiquating" the print run suffers from.

As for the content, if you're familiar with Millionaire's unique and devastatingly brilliant strip, then you know what to expect. Alcoholism, self-amputation and suicide are fodder for some of the most twisted and hilarious gags ever set to paper. The clever cover design, if studied for a moment, cleverly suggests the strange parallel realities Millionaire has created between the worlds of Sock Monkey and Maakies -- but I always find Maakies the more vital, entertaining and frankly fascinating read.

I've had some unpleasant online encounters with Tony Millionaire, but there's absolutely no denying the appeal of his cheerily misogynistic, gin-soaked parables. Ultimately, I have to consign Millionaire to that rarefied region of the creative world occupied by folks like Hunter S. Thompson, about whom my friend Marshall points out it must be much more fun reading about than actually spending time with. Reading Maakies is fun. It's a twisted, perverse work by an unpleasant man, but somehow it all works to create staggeringly good comics. Grade: 5/5

-- Alan David Doane



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