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posted November 3, 2006
Fantagraphics, Hardcover, 256 pages, November 2006, $24.95
There are no rock stars in comic books, but Tony Millionaire has two things in common with one. One, his reputation was established early on by an exhibition of craft -- in the Age of Dilbert, Millionaire's lush illustration looked like 19th Century masterworks. Two, Millionaire's reputation grew not so much by the cartoonist honing that craft but by the outsized behavior he displayed. The first time many heard of Millionaire was when we stopped to check out a Maakies
strip and had someone tell us a story about how much booze was consumed by the cartoonist in the making of a weekly strip, or, abandoning commentary on art altogether, our interest might have brought from an onlooker a story about a tuxedo, women, or a slice of pizza. Or all three.
It's always fun to dig through a volume of first work to see how the strip has changed, and at what point it settles in to fire on all cylinders. Unlike most strips, Maakies shows very little developmement on a first glance in terms of its visual appeal; it's smarter now, and Millionaire does more things with staging than he used to, but his cartoon art was good-looking from the beginning. It's more in refining the sense of humor that Millionaire's made the most progress. Fans of the strip will know what I mean when I say the top strips in Premillenial Maakies
will be more familiar to readers of Millionaire's later work than the bottom ones will be. Millionaire was quick to pull the trigger. Literally, in terms of the suicide assault the strip more frequently became early on. But even if he had gone nowhwere further than the work in this book, I'd still want to own a copy. The re-design, featuring the one-strip-per-page format of later Maakies
books, feels at times like a volume really thin carpet samples, but is excellent all the same. This feels like a foundational volume, one for the archives if you have 10 comic books or 10,000.