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posted July 22, 2009
Jack Katz, Charlie Novinskie
Graphic Novel Literature, softcover, 108 pages, March 2009, $14.95
9780976665199 (ISBN13), 0976665190 (ISBN10)
This is a soap-opera comics story from the late Golden Age and Silver Age artist turned early Direct Market maverick Jack "First Kingdom" Katz, working with his publisher Charlie Novinskie. The entire deal has been midwifed to a certain extent (maybe fully, maybe less-so) by the Hero Initiative -- Novinskie is a committee member with the charity and Katz contributed work to at least one of their fund-raising volumes. What may surprise some people is how attractive much of the comic turns out to be. Katz tells his story of an insurance investigator delving into a dead billionaire's past to settle his estate in a series of borderless single pages, many of which boasting of multiple images that count on the reader following the placement of word balloons and art to follow. This works exceedingly well about 98 percent of the time, which is remarkable given such a relatively offbeat, general approach and Katz's inactivity in comics over the last few decades. There's also a lot of fun to be had with Katz's odder design choices. He has a refreshingly different standard of beauty than most cartoonists of his generation, and his male figures are even more fun for their being all over the place. Given the number of unattractive characters with ugly hearts to match, at times Legacy
risks turning into extended meditation on receding hairlines and melted flesh.
This comic may remind people of some of the late Will Eisner's work. Katz's figures move in much the same way Eisner's did, each creator's works suggests a fascination with texture on the page. But where much of Eisner's graphic novel work had the sensibility of short films, Legacy
feels like a turgid television mini-series from the 1970s. It drags, badly. While the whole thing might have been structured differently to greatest effect, The kind of skilled dialogue work that might have settled various actors into distinct camps with much greater clarity never materializes. What's left is a story told well in terms of its visuals but in an extremely old-fashioned manner that, ultimately, simply isn't flattering to the volume's ambition. You'd have to like soap opera over-talking and romantic clenches and boardroom confrontations a whole lot
in order to enjoy this work, and I wonder if he had worked with a skilled writer that might have brought a sense of simplicity or a fresh way to present this book's bombast, what Katz might have been capable of here.