A truth of the book biz: Sometimes it takes a while for a title to grow or catch on, and often books get lost in the shuffle because marketing couldn’t quite give them the push they needed, for whatever reason: understaffed, underbudgeted, overworked. I have a great deal of fondness for Billy Fog–heck, I’ll probably be devoting my panel contribution to it at the American Literary Translators Association conference this fall–and thus far have completed three volumes of it. I think of it as Edward Gorey meets Calvin & Hobbes: original, haunting, alarming, and poignant. But heck, even I’m half a year late in posting this fine review of it from the folks over at The Onion A.V. Club:
French cartoonist Guillaume Bianco recalls Roald Dahl, Shel Silverstein, and Edward Gorey with his album Billy Fog: The Gift Of Trouble Sight (Archaia), about a death-obsessed little boy who sees ghosts and demons that others can’t. Combining illustrated poems, fake newspapers, games, factoids, conventional comics, and first-person musings by his hero, Bianco’s book may seem a little dense and disconnected at first, but there is an actual story tying all these fragments together, having to do with the death of Billy’s cat and how it gets him thinking about souls, Santa Claus, and whether all grown-ups are murderers because “they killed the kids they used to be.” The Gift Of Trouble Sight is macabre, but never excessively so, and as Billy comes to grips with the permanence of death, Bianco achieves a profundity rare for this genre.