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Hicksville

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3.95 of 5 stars 3.95  ·  rating details  ·  992 ratings  ·  82 reviews
The world-famous cartoonist Dick Burger has earned millions and become the most powerful man in the comics industry. However, behind his rapid rise to success there lies a dark and terrible secret, as the biographer Leonard Batts discovers when he visits Burger’s hometown of Hicksville in remote New Zealand. Hicksville is where the locals treasure comics and the library st ...more
Paperback, 264 pages
Published July 1st 2014 by Drawn and Quarterly (first published October 20th 1998)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,768)
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Ken-ichi
I'm not sure why Hicksville has always appealed to me. It has all the abstruse ambiguity that characterizes the kind of literature I usually despise. When I encounter something like, say, a David Lynch film, I always want to make sense of it. I figure there must be some structure and logic, a clearly delineated metaphor that, once perceived, will rearrange all the disparate little pieces into a perfect level 18 high score in Tetris (with the giant rocket ship and everything). When that fails, I ...more
Abby
Quite simply one of the most AMAZING books I have read in a long while. Horrocks has penned a heartfelt -- and sometimes heartbreaking -- homage to comics and their creators that encompasses the full spectrum of the medium: from superheroes to self-published mini-comics to graphic novels. Hicksville is a magical place -- a tiny New Zealand town where the lending library includes the full run of Action Comics, the local teashop is called The Rarebit Fiend (after the Windsor McKay comic of the sam ...more
Emilia P
So uh, yeah.
I liked the basic point this was making: commercialization kind of ruins things, but it means (in a meta-way, told through the stylistic changes throughout the story), that the masses get a whiff of the really great stuff that's not so commercial and more beautiful and more "art" than mass-market superheroes. Well, sure. But there are two reasons this basically didn't work for me.

1) I thought the plot was epically contrived and clunky. The characters only existed to serve it, and the
...more
Morgane
(3.5 stars)

I enjoyed all the comics within comics and the humor (especially in Sam's comics: "Perhaps I missed my true vocation when I became a cartoonist... maybe I was meant to be a mortician... or else Morrissey..."). But I guess I was expecting something a little darker/more scandalous by the end, given all the mystery and the buildup. And I wasn't crazy about all the emphasis on superhero comics, since I've never cared for them to begin with. Still, I can't say I've read anything quite like
...more
Peter
Man, reading graphic novels is an expensive hobby. It usually works out to about 20 bucks per sitting (which is considerably more expensive than watching Hot Tub Time Machine from Netflix). I know they take a long time to write and craft and all that, but being a comics poseur is pricey enough. How do the true junkies do it? Do they eat?

Anyway, it's probably unfair to begin my review this way. It's not Horrocks' fault, and his book took me longer to pour through than the average graphic novel.
...more
Mary Overton
A graphic novel, although the author prefers the less pretentious label "A Comic Book" which fits since this is a tribute to the under-appreciated genius of a previous generation of cartoonists -- Jack Kirby, Harvey Kurtzman, Wally Wood and others. A fun adventure of stories within comics within lost & found panels within dreams within stories -- a meta-fictional, Magical Realist mishmash. The young people of the mythical cartoonist village Hicksville, New Zealand are lost and disillusioned, ...more
Andrew
I love graphic novels on the literary end of the spectrum. And if you're a person who likes graphic novels and also happen to be a New Zealander, then it would be rude not to read a book like this one that has been so widely acclaimed and is set in your own country. It took far too long for this book to arrive back home. There was a big delay before it was available in New Zealand. A massive delay in our local library getting it, and an even longer delay in me getting to read it. What started ou ...more
Derek Royal
I reread this book in preparation for our interview with Dylan Horrocks, and I enjoyed even more this time around. Being familiar with the larger body of Horrocks's comics, I can better appreciate the narrative universe he has created. Throughout many of his texts, he interweaves various characters, settings, and situations. Hicksville is only a part of that world. In this way, I compare his work to that of Kim Deitch, who does similar things. What's more, Horrocks plays with issues of autobiogr ...more
Mark
Last night I reread HICKSVILLE for probably the tenth time, going back to its original publication in serial form in PICKLE two decades ago. This graphic novel just gets better each time: it is a masterpiece of art comics.

Composed of a dozen distinct threads, themes, and layers, HICKSVILLE weaves together everything from the history of superhero comics and its strange personages and culture (I wondered this time if Michael Chabon had read HICKSVILLE prior to writing KAVALIER AND KLAY), to Borge
...more
Owen Curtsinger
Unlike anything I've ever read, and one of the most engaging and interesting graphic novels there is. On several different dimensions of storytelling, we learn about the philosophy of sequential art, the nature of genius and storytelling, and a good pseudo-history of both New Zealand and comic studios. It seems like this should be up there with Understanding Comics or Maus as far as books that have been epic game-changers for the graphic novel. Wow.
M.
Horrocks knows the secrets of art and he talks about, and even SHOWS them here. Th MZA talked about how this is the core of "the club," and this is true. This exists in every medium, and I'm glad I have found it for comix.
Stewart Tame
A sweet love letter to the comics industry. Hicksville is a small town in New Zealand where everyone reads and enjoys comics. The local library is full of everything from the Golden Age to present day, and the townfolk avidly and knowledgeably discuss their favorites. The local cafe is called The Rarebit Fiend. :-) To this town comes an American journalist researching the past of comics superstar, Dick Burger, originally from Hicksville. But no one seems willing to discuss Burger, and there are ...more
Alex Lewis
So the general consensus is "different"

I don't have much to add, except that I liked the intro and the conclusion a lot more than I liked most of the middle bits.
Sarah
I enjoyed the style and pace of the narrative, and the embedded mini comics were fun. But the ending didn't really live up to the build up.
Paul
A comics journalist travels to a small town in New Zealand called Hicksville, because it's the boyhood home of the world's most successful comics creator and publisher. By interacting with the people who knew this creator--all of whom hate him now--he learns startling secrets, some good and some bad. Horrocks addresses the joy of comic books and the sadder, crooked aspects of the business that surrounds them. He tells the story both in straight-forward narrative and through bits of the comics cr ...more
Kaoru
I like the artwork and (some gimmicky meta-stuff aside) the story isn't too bad either, but I found the general tone of the book a bit too holier than thou. Not that there's much wrong with the message that you better not sell your soul to the US comics industry because it's very keen on exploiting you and so on, but the way this book plays out you're supposed to feel horrible and stupid for ever enjoying a single superhero comic book. Well hey, I'm not much of a superhero guy either... but why ...more
Thomas
If you really, really love comics then this is for you.
Michael Economy
Not what I expected. Fun, and very different.
Dan
Hmm. Well I could see how this might lend itself to a second reading, though I don't think I'll bother. There's some heady stuff in here, sort've. Hard to follow at times and I would've missed how two the storylines connected if someone else hadn't pointed it out in another review. I didn't love the art, and I'm not a huge fan of mainstream comics. I read a lot of X-Men when I was younger and my adult appreciated for graphic novels has grown, but aside from my own personal subjective experience ...more
Rosa
Leonard Batts a reporter for a comice review journal goes to Hicksville in New Zealand to do research on Dick Burger, a famous comic book writer. When he gets there he meets tons of quirky people, many of whom are very angry at Dick. Over the course of the story you learn more about the town, Dick and the people that he used to be friends with, eventually finding out just what Dick did that was so bad.

I really loved this. Watching Leonard try to figure out how to interact with the town was funny
...more
Jason
I found out about Hicksville only recently, while listening to Dylan Horrocks' interview on the Comix Claptrap podcast. I'm guessing my reading experience was pretty similar to most: at first I had no idea what was going on or why this book was so highly regarded. Then halfway through, I got to the "Stars" section of the book -- the comic within a comic (a la If on a Winters' Night a Traveler, which makes a cameo in one of the panels) -- and I suddenly knew what the stakes were, and what to care ...more
Mjhancock
Comic book journalist Leonard Batts travels to the southern end of the world, to Hicksville looking for the real story and past of comic book genius Dick Burger. What he finds is... well, kind of like Twin Peaks with comic books, as everyone in the town is well-versed and highly literate in the art of sequential images. When I started reading Hicksville, I was expecting a heavily meta discussion of the history and pitfalls of comics, backed up by solid and imaginative visuals. And that's what I ...more
D.M.
Hicksville is sort of a tricky book. Though it is a compelling story with believable, well-shaped (and drawn) characters and locations, I can't imagine liking it much if I weren't a comics geek. So much of this tale relies on not just familiarity with comics, but an at least basic grasp of the industry and a firm understanding of what the medium can mean to people. Without those things, I can only imagine a reader would be at least unconcerned and at most utterly confused.
As it is, I am a comics
...more
Artur Coelho
É muito fácil apaixonarmo-nos por um livro destes. Hicksville é mais do que uma história de banda desenhada, é uma elegia ao amor pelos comics, que como o autor coloca na brilhante introdução (só essas páginas já fazem valer o livro), são janelas para outros mundos que despertam a imaginação e a vontade de explorar o que está para lá dos limites da vinheta.

Hicksville é uma aldeia ficcional neo-zelandesa, onde chega um jornalista americano em busca da história de vida de Dick Burguer, o mais bem
...more
Paul
A recent conversation with a friend regarding Hicksville:

Friend: "I don't know why everybody loves it."
Me: "It's his love letter to comics."
F: "It's an awful love letter to comics. If I were comics, and I got that letter, I'd say, 'Yeah, look, I just got out of a relationship . . .'"
M: "I think we should see other media?"
F: "Yeah."

While I don't feel as strongly as my friend, on reading it again after ten years, I see her point. This is a very ambitious work, an attempt to write a literary comic
...more
Crawford
In the true spirit of a CEQ consider this quote from p74, being the title of an off-stage character's magnum opus: "The Proud Puriri of Precipience: a disturbingly dialectical distillation of this nation's solipistic soul, wrought from the fabric of our unconscious and the wiry strands of a 9 sable brush . . .". From the triplet of alliteration to the wiry 9 this is a questioning of the Kiwi identity in the same spirit as Douglas Lilburn's attempts to write the New Zealand symphony.
CJHD
13-Feb-11
...more
David Stewart
I'd heard about Hicksville while reading another graphic novel, and I'm glad I did because this is one of the best I've read. It's an homage to comics, a glimpse into the life of a strange New Zealand town, and a parable of sorts about the ills of ill-gotten gains. It also tells a great story with a bunch of interesting characters, and in the end that's kind of the point of these book things.

The story begins with a comics journalist making his way to a small town called Hicksville, the birthpla
...more
Dorothy
This was a strange story, sort of about comics, and sort of telling its own story. Maybe. I actually was really confused most of the time. I don't do well with stories that jump all around in time, and I couldn't keep track of when things were happening or what was even happening. Different comics and drawing styles would appear out of nowhere . . . choppy, I guess. I need context!

For example, some characters were talking about what was eventually (like way eventually, near the end) revealed as
...more
Blue
I guess if you like comics and graphic novels, then you've heard of Hicksville. Except, I just recently found out about it, thanks to a recent edition that just got published. Here, Horrocks does mention he thought of re-drawing the whole thing, and starting to read it, I wished he had. I was very confused very quickly reading Hicksville, mainly because two characters look almost exactly the same so it is hard to tell who is who. But the problems run deeper than just that (eventually you know on ...more
Raúl Sánchez
Es un libro más fácil de admirar que de amar, y sus pretensiones literarias exceden un poco a la capacidad de Dylan Horrocks. Sin embargo eso me parece muchísimo más noble que la increíble cantidad de mierda en el mercado hoy en día y que la gente siga babeando cuando le sueltan Batman a Grant Morrison, quien es una persona que no tiene absolutamente nada que decir sobre nada, menos sobre el arte o el ser humano.

La debilidad de Hicksville radica en su plot, pero la necesidad de un argumento redo
...more
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The Panel: Backwaterberg 8 2 Aug 13, 2013 08:33PM  
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Horrocks has been involved in the New Zealand comic scene since the mid 1980s, when he co-founded Razor with Cornelius Stone and had his work published in the University of Auckland student magazine Craccum. Later in the decade he began to get international recognition, having work published by Australia's Fox Comics and the American Fantagraphics Books. He then moved to the United Kingdom where h ...more
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