Book Review: “Reincarnation Stories” by Kim Deitch

I always find Kim Deitch’s graphic novels fascinating. They offer a blend of real-life history, secret societies, forgotten bits of Americana and talking cats or other weird bits of magic. It’s all anchored by his rock-solid art, which features precise black-and-white lines in an expressive early-animation style.

Reincarnation Stories” fits the mold. We get a hole in Deitch’s retina, a parade of past lives, once-famous movie cowboys, a Native American tribe that relocates to the moon, old alt-comics memories featuring fellow artist Spain Rodriguez, and a bit of torment from his Felix-like antagonist, Waldo the cat.

It’s strange and artistic and weirdly engrossing. As always, Deitch blends the real-life elements with the made-up portions, making it hard to tell where one ends and the other begins. Maybe a drunk D.W. Griffith really did ID Deitch as the reincarnation of an former drinking buddy when the cartoonist was just 4 years old. It probably didn’t happen, but Deitch makes you wonder, in more ways than one.