Comics Go to Hell: A Visual History of the Devil in Comics, The: by Fredrik Strömberg, 320 pages By Megan Pants

Jun 04, 2007

I have to admit I was expecting a book highly devoted to Coop when I found this on my desk. I couldn’t have been farther from the truth. Strömberg never falters from his focus on comics, which automatically excludes Coop. Comics of all varieties, from religious to Disney, and written in as many languages are included. He examines how the devil (or devil-like characters) run a common thread through many belief systems that, on first glance, seem to have little to do with one another. The format of the small book (it’s about 4”x4”), is a comic panel on the left-hand page with an accompanying explanation on the right page, which led me to believe that it would be a quick read. Again, I was fooled. It reads like a dissertation rather than an interested examination of his topic. Everything is overly academic, which could be seen as admirable by some, but not me. I think that the majority of those who would be interested in this aren’t looking to sift through all of the academia for a small interesting fact every twenty or so pages. Strömberg writes a large portion assuming that the reader is pretty familiar with both Dante and Virgil, which I don’t see as a reasonable assumption for the laydude who’s just interested in either comics or the devil. There are high points (like seeing how different factions of Disney deal differently with the devil or how a Danish cartoonist, Peter Madsen, depicts the devil as an evil-looking Jesus). On the whole, I learned more about Christian lore than solely about the Devil, which only makes sense when you really think about it. –Megan (Fantagraphics Books, 7563 Lake City Way NE, Seattle, WA 98115)