Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The Complete D.R. & Quinch

What I try to do with reviews at this Bookshelf blog is keep it simple and spoiler-free, and let you know whether I'd recommend you pick up a copy of what I just read. Seems to work okay. This time, a brief review of The Complete D.R. & Quinch (Rebellion / Simon & Schuster, 2010)

I don't know whether I have very much left to say about D.R. & Quinch, but I'll give it a try. Originally published in 1983-84, it still sits pretty high on my list of favorite Alan Moore titles. It's a juvenile, loud, anarchic and convention-busting serial about two heavily-armed students who enjoy boozing up more than anybody you ever met, and whose wild adventures set the template for many Alan Moore heroes that would follow. You can find the DNA of Waldo "Diminished Responsibility" Dobbs and Ernest Errol Quinch in almost all of Moore's Tomorrow Stories, and you can find the DNA of The Young Ones, The Hitch-Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy and the National Lampoon feature O.C. and Stiggs in these stories.

Dated they may be, but D.R. and Quinch's brand of mayhem and one-liners remains one of the most entertaining and ridiculous experiences in comics. Moore, abetted by Alan Davis's remarkable designs, clear storytelling and solid character work, came up with some incredibly absurd plots and, once D.R. is given dialogue in the second story - the first is told in narration - it's comedy gold on every page. Sure, the duo's brand of fun involves everything from playing tennis with hand grenades to terraforming planets to write obscene graffiti, but really, who among us hasn't longed to get away with that?

D.R. & Quinch did not run for very long. Moore only wrote six stories, each between one and five 6-page episodes, before retiring the characters. They were resurrected in 1987 for nine "Agony Pages" scripted by Jamie Delano in which the demented duo offered advice for readers. Their advice usually required access to fission material or Adnan Khashoggi's telephone number.

There have been collections of D.R. & Quinch before, many times, but this is by far the most expansive and complete collection published to date. It contains all of the Moore episodes, and all nine Delano-scripted pages, reproduced in color for the first time. Two years ago, Rebellion had released a volume which did have the Agony Pages, but in black and white. This volume also includes a huge collection of pin-ups and sketches of the characters, along with some cameos that they made in the pages of a British comic convention's program book, and a couple of pages of Moore's original script.

I don't know what more to add. It's a great collection of very funny comics, done very well on nice paper. It's the first of two collections aimed at the American market as a co-publishing venture of Rebellion and Simon & Schuster, the other being a new edition of Judge Dredd: The Complete Case Files 01 with a new cover, and everybody's hoping that emphasizing the resumes of Alan Moore and Alan Davis over the comic where they originally appeared might make a difference in how the books perform domestically.

Unlike the previous collections in 2000 AD's large graphic novel line, these are available from big box domestic retailers like Barnes & Noble and Borders, and don't have to be special-ordered through comic specialty shops with fingers crossed. Happily, these have been designed to fit right in with the many previous collections, with matching spines and layout, so people who have been collecting the line and care about this sort of thing (going by the forums, that would apparently be "almost all of us") can breathe easily - Simon & Schuster have totally done right with this collection, and it bodes well for future books in the line. Highly recommended.

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