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posted July 21, 2016
Alternative Comics, 192 pages, April 2016 (North America), $19.99.
If 2015's Sam Zabel And The Magic Pen
was for those of us in a certain sweet spot of alt-comics readership a long weekend spent in the company of a former high school crush, Incomplete Works
is the contents of a box under your a bed in your parents' home that studied closely and with great patience reveals the details of that time period, but perhaps only to you and a few dozen people just like you. A cornucopia of false starts, short stories and misapprehensions in comics form, this surprisingly satisfying volume drives our attention to a place where Horrocks seems as maddeningly comfortable as any imaginary town where comics are taken seriously: a place of creation where there's little hope for success and even less so for a sequel.
The best parts of Incomplete Works -- released first in New Zealand and now available here from Alternative Comics, the Marc Arseneault-run distribution and publishing hub -- creep across any number of comics that should not and do not really work. There are text-heavy piece shrunk into tiny-pamphlet forms, diatribes on the inability to create, complaints about the position of comics vis-a-vis CD sales that history has since depantsed. If you know a bit of Horrocks personal story you can take a pair of mental tweezers and pull out pieces of a life yet to come, both in and out of comics. It looks like a happy one, in the same sense that this recurring dread of not being able to create is being given the finger by the book itself and the generation-defining Hicksville
and its benign, noble view of a life in and around comics, both yet to come and just now passed.
I'll have done a shitty job of selling this book by the time I stop writing this review. Dylan Horrocks may be the most important person in my life with whom I've personally spent less than a half-dozen hours. He made a map of how I wished to feel. I hardly think of his work the way this book presents it, that struggle to get it made, as much as I ponder the elegant calm of its best results. Both are important. As I get older, I see they're the same thing.