Alec Longstreth’s comic Basewood, reviewed.

A Cross-Hatched Epic Adventure for All Ages

A Cross-Hatched Epic Adventure for All Ages

Reading between the lines.
Oct. 8 2014 10:47 AM

A Man, a Dog, and a Monster

Alec Longstreth’s delightful all-ages fable Basewood.

Courtesy of Alec Longstreth.

Courtesy of Alec Longstreth.

A man wakes up bloody and battered in the middle of the forest. He doesn’t remember his name or how he got there. A friendly dog licks his wounds. A monster hunts him in the night. Who is he? Does he have a family? Does he have a home?

From these simple, elemental questions Alec Longstreth spins a lively adventure story in Basewood, his handsome, Kickstarter-funded all-ages comic. Taken in by a kindly hermit, Argus, the man builds a new life in the woods. But the nearby cliffs haunt him, and he wonders if somewhere someone is waiting for his return. When he leaves Argus to climb those cliffs, his past catches up to him—for good and for ill.

Courtesy of Alec Longstreth.

Basewood is a fable of sorts, a simple but resonant story with echoes of the great odysseys of human tale-spinning. You could tell the story around a campfire—but then you’d miss out on Longstreth’s wonderful artwork. Longstreth is best-known to many comics fans as one of the two creators of the delightful pinball zine Drop Target, but with Basewood he takes a leap forward into epic-scale storytelling. His big-hearted cartooning suits this kind of adventure, and his detailed, cross-hatched ink drawings are showcased on Basewood’s big, elegant pages. A cartoon tribute to work, love, and family, Basewood is a book that feels as though it could have been made a hundred years ago, and as though it might be read a hundred years from now. We’re very proud to have Alec Longstreth illustrating the October issue of the Slate Book Review.

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Basewood by Alec Longstreth. Phase Seven Comics.

Dan Kois edits and writes for Slate’s culture department. He is writing a book called How to Be a Family and co-writing, with Isaac Butler, an oral history of Angels in America.