Well after years of waiting for it to come out and months for it to get to the top of my reading spreadsheet (I cheated and moved it up) I've finally done it and read Bacchus after, what almost 25 years. and though I was a very different back then - old Colin still thinks young Colin's taste rocks. I want to smear myself is butter and roll around with this comic, it is simply brilliant.
Okay so like so many great works you see the creator learning his trade on the page BUT by God does he learn it well. The book is really in three parts all of which have their unique charm.
Firstly we have the rambling epic a slightly incoherent story at the beginning that really tells the tale of Joe Theseus and is very much a story trying to find its feet. It seems to roll from idea to idea not quite knowing what its trying to do and become. Yet quite majestically by the end it has and managed to bring whats gone before kicking and screaming with it.
Second up we have the short stories that in many ways define the series in my mind. Its how I came to know and love the this masterpiece. They feel very different to the epic storytelling that surrounds it (spoilers for my next paragraph I'd say!) but fits so well with the character. I might be biase (well I am) but absolutely these stories exploring myth, booze and human nature and fear are just so right. They are superb and the dark turn they take as they progress is so reflective of the myths that inform them.
By the third section, as I've said we're back to the epic storytelling, this time more focused and defined. All the creators involved have honed their craft and are on the top of their game. But christ alive however fantastic the story is and it really, really is. However devinely clever the word play . However subtle and crafted the character work is. However good all that is Eddie Campbell's art in the last story Earth, Water, Air, Fire is the standout. Its so atypical, yet so expressive. So stylised yet so grounded. Its exquiste.
I love the way we return to the same tales time and again, just as you can imagine Bacchus would return to tales time and again. Yet equally fitting each time we get a different angle, new insight, fresh perspective. Or just a different truth. Genius.
So yeah I fear I could go on and on about how pleased I am that this book has lived up to my sky high expectations (and those of you who know me know I can do that, oh boy can I). Its a very curious relief and surprise. I didn't think it could be as good as I remembered.
But it is and every fucker who claims to love comics should be made to read this.
In my top ten.