Chuckling Whatsit by Richard Sala

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A genre-defining masterpiece of graphic noir comes back into print.

In The Chuckling Whatsit, Sala weaves the gothic cartooning traditions of Edward Gorey and Charles Addams with a densely constructed, melodramatic murder mystery involving astrology, ghouls, academia and outsider art. Part noir, part horror and part comedy, this labyrinthian tale of intrigue follows an unemployed writer named Broom who becomes unwittingly ensnared in a complex plot involving mysterious outsider artist Emile Jarnac, the shadowy machinations of the Ghoul Appreciation Society Headquarters (GASH), and the enigmatic Mr. Ixnay. Sala's deadpan delivery makes this ingeniously layered narrative a roller-coaster ride of darkly pure comic suspense.

Sala's drawing style, while most often compared to Edward Gorey, also reveals the influence of everything from Hollywood monster movies and Dick Tracy to German expressionism and Grimm's fairy tales. It's a style that's perfectly suited to the narrative, constantly flirting with Sala's fascination for the grotesque and lending palpable tension to the gruesome riddle of The Chuckling Whatsit.

Sala's eclectic career includes contributions to Art Spiegelman's RAW magazine, MTV's Liquid Television, The New York Times, Playboy and his ongoing Evil Eye comic book series from Fantagraphics, though The Chuckling Whatsit remains his most popular work.

About Richard Sala

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Published October 28, 1998 by Fantagraphics Books. 200 pages
Genres: Comics & Graphic Novels, Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Literature & Fiction. Fiction

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In the world of alternative comics, Richard Sala is something of an oddity: While the major trend lately has been autobiographical cartooning firmly grounded in the squalor of twentysomething existence, Sala creates strange detective stories with an occult edge.

Mar 29 2002 | Read Full Review of Chuckling Whatsit

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