It’s time for an epic graphic novel recommendation, especailly good as a gift for fans of well-crafted storytelling.

Reincarnation Stories
by Kim Deitch
ISBN-13: 978-1683962618

Next up In The 2019 PopCult Gift Guide is the new Graphic Novel by legendary underground comix maestro. Kim Deitch. I haven’t had a chance to crack open my copy yet (look for a PopCult Comicx Bookshelf review in January), but as a fan of Deitch’s for 45 years now, I will recommend this to any fan of challenging graphic novels, underground comix, or any non-superhero comic books.

This seems almost like a career-capper, a summation of every theme that Dietch has addressed over his seven decades as a cartoonist. I’ll turn it over to the publisher’s blurb:

The award-winning cartoonist returns with a graphic novel that spans the past, present, and future of human history, in which Deitch himself, in a parallel reality, meets his spiritual nemesis, Waldo the Cat.

Kim Deitch is an underground cartoonist―i.e., a contemporary of Spiegelman, et al.―whose craft just keeps getting better and better. Aesthetically inspired by silent film and 1930s animation, Deitch’s comics are infused with 1960s psychedelia and spiritualism. Reincarnation Stories is a collection of comics narratives that combine into a graphic novel. It spans the past, present, and future of human history, with appearances by Frank Sinatra, monkey gods, a forgotten cowboy star of the silver screen, and a tribe of Native Americans that successfully resettled on the moon. In a parallel reality, Deitch himself is the mega-successful creator of a series of kids books about a superhero called Young Avatar, who helps marginalized souls lead better lives and whose alter ego is a carpenter. Deitch’s spiritual nemesis (an incarnation of Judas Iscariot), Waldo the Cat, makes an appearance. Black & white illustrations.

Sitting on a bench one day, four-year-old Kim Deitch is accosted by an elderly man. Flask in hand, the man exclaims, “Is it possible? Sid! SID PINCUS! Good God, man! You’ve changed!” A lightbulb goes off in the man’s head. “You died, Sidney! And now you live again!” Whisked away by his mother, young Deitch is left to wonder: Was it all just the mad ravings of a drunk or a tantalizing glimpse into reincarnation?

Thus begins Deitch’s quest to piece together the cosmic jigsaw puzzle of creation and reveal his past lives. This sprawling odyssey weaves through time and space, encompassing a dizzying array of oddball characters, including aspiring screenwriter Sidney Pincus, a tribe of moon-dwelling Native Americans, a feline YouTube star, a has-been silver screen cowboy, Frank Sinatra, and the awesome Monkey God! Featuring Deitch’s surreal scenarios and eye-popping psychedelia, Reincarnation Stories is a gripping yarn and a cartooning tour de force.

You ought to be able to order this book from any bookseller, using the ISBN number, and it’s in stock from Amazon and Fantagraphics.