What if there was a place where comics were a going arts concern? A haven and spiritual homeland for the entire art form, an invisible little hamlet that gave shelter and support to that comics' practitioners, this would be a place where secret masterworks were created, kept on local shelves to be studied, treasured, and adored.
This place would be Dylan Horrocks' HICKSVILLE.
Declared proudly as "A Comic Book" on its cover, HICKSVILLE is the story of Leonard Batts, a journalist trying to write the life story of Hicksville native Dick Burger, who became famous for writing and drawing the comics story of Captain Tomorrow. In Horrocks' world, you can do that — you can get famous because you make comics, and there are writers and audiences for comics biographies. Which should classify HICKSVILLE as science fiction, but I digress. Nobody in Hicksville wants to help Batts write this biography; nobody wants to talk, let alone think, about Dick Burger. And so Batts sets out to find out why.
On top of the faux-mystery conceit that drives the plot along and the rich human dramas that play out during Batts' quest, HICKSVILLE manages to be equal parts wish-fulfillment and meta-comic. Its pages are filled with samples of all kinds of books that exist only in Hicksville, from mini-comics to mainstream graphic novels and all points in-between. We get hints and tastes of the tapestry of work that lives on Hicksville's shelves and inside Horrocks' head, some real and some imagined. While Horrocks can't quite pull off the stylistic shifts visually required of such a feat, his ideas and passion are more than enough to compensate, which seems a rare and fitting state for a comic about comics.
Matt Fraction splits his time between motion graphics and design house MK12, writing comics, and reading comics. He is the author of the graphic novels The Annotated Mantooth and Last of the Independents, both available from AiT/Planet Lar. He can be found on the web at mattfraction.com. His wife is hot.