Life in Allston-Brighton, a side of metropolitan Boston that is populated by strivers and slackers alike, lurks in the shadows between the movers and shakers of the Brahmin-class and the rough and tumble of the headline-grabbing mobsters, is portrayed here in page after page of skillfully rendered comics that come closer to qualifying as photorealism than any others that have crossed our desk, save those of Toc Fetch. Amazingly, Mr. Stevens managed to produce this intensely detailed strip on a weekly basis, for the now-defunct Boston Phoenix. So, while clearly this book collects a successful comicstrip, it nonetheless manages to live up (down?) to the promise of its title. Between the covers of Failure, readers will find page after page of expert renderings of drinkers (alcoholics? you decide), druggies (addicts? ditto), and others struggling with their personal, financial and relationship issues and other woes (losers? too soon to tell), most notably the artist himself, who, despite his obvious and amazing talent, never seems to get anywhere...
Karl Stevens runs his victory lap in this collection of (mostly) full color short pieces that (to some degree, anyway) depict his struggles to live a life less dependent on sarcasm and irony. A follow up to his previous collection, Failure, The Winner finds Karl recently espoused, newly sober and, as you may have already surmised from the cover illustration, working as a museum guard – but still residing in Boston and still an ace in the Pen & Ink Rendering of Reality (and, in one bit, Fantasy, as well) Department. This time around Mr. Stevens fleshes out his drawing with plenty of color, employing a variety of methods, primarily watercolor. Fans of his previous work will not be disappointed, and newcomers possessing the proper temperament and appropriately dry sense of humor may find themselves pleasantly surprised.
When you think of your cat's inner life, do you imagine it being by turns curious, angry, playful, hungry, frantic, escapist, lazy, sleepy, dreamy, imaginative, and even occasionally delusional bordering on psychotic – and with an undercurrent of snark constantly lurking just below the surface? If so, then your cat may have a lot in common with Karl Steven's cat, Penny, the narrator and putative "author" of this memoir. Even if you imagine your cat's inner life as being very different – and even if you've never had a cat – you still stand a good chance of being entertained by this precisely-yet-lushly drawn work.
Head over to Room 68 Gallery and check out the nice high-resolution images of some of the original pages (and fantasize about owning one of them – or, if you just came into some cash, consider actually buying one!).