Review: Masterpiece Comics

R. Sikoryak’s “Masterpiece Comics” is an inspired mash-up, combining classic works of literature with classic comic book and comic strip characters. At their best, the stories unite shared themes underlying each work. “Blond Eve” settles the Bumsteads in the Garden of Eden, where Dagwood’s open gluttony and Blondie’s innocent curves subject them to the raging wrath of Mr. Dithers.

It’s fun to watch Sikoryak connect the dots. Garfield’s selfishness takes a sinister turn as he tempts Jon Arbuckle into damnation in a retelling of Faust. Superman sneers through his downfall for “shooting an Arab” in Action Camus. Batman—complete with an axe on his chest in place of his traditional symbol (Sikoryak is careful with trademarks)—rationalizes the murder of his pawnbroker.

Each tale is paired with painstaking execution, as Sikoryak’s adaptable style lets him showcase the grace notes of the artists he mimics. His Little Nemo/Dorian Gray spoof showcases Winsor McCay’s immaculate detail; his pairing of Charlie Brown and “Metamorphosis” employs Charles Schulz’s simple, evocative lines.

A few of the stories seem more like retelling than reinvention, namely his Tales from the Crypt take on “Wuthering Heights” and his pairing of Little Lulu with “The Scarlet Letter.” Unfortunately, these are two of the longer stories in the book, and they come off as stylized recaps.

But most of the stories work, and all of them are inspired. For fans of classic works in both mediums, “Masterpiece Comics” offers plenty of smiles and some smug recognition as well.