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Kings in Disguise: A Novel


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About the Author

James Vance has written scripts for The Crow, The Spirit, and other popular comics. He lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Dan E. Burr has been an illustrator for DC Comics's Big Book Series. He lives in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.


YA-- The story a young man's adventures and coming of age during the Great Depression. Freddie Bloch, alone at 13, rides the rails across the country in search of his father. Along the way, he encounters the best and worst mankind has to offer. Freddie sees an anguished nation divided, the haves against the have-nots. He and his hobo friend, the so-called King of Spain, try to get along in a country in which many citizens have lost their human decency in a struggle for survival. Although the two survive violent attacks by crazed bums, brutal police, and ignorant townspeople, they maintain hope because of the kindnesses shown to them by a few citizens. YAs will be captivated by the unique format of this graphic novel. Vance's story, coupled with Burr's haunting black-and-white illustrations, gives a frightening picture of what happens to ordinary people in a nation gone mad.-- Phillip Clark, R. E. Lee High School, Springfield, VA

"Utterly masterful." -- Ron Evry - Fantagraphics Best Comics of All Time
"Wonderful, earnest storytelling . . . a book made by intelligent, caring human hands." -- Art Spiegelman
"The best case yet that a mainstream novel can be told in comics form." -- Max Allan Collins, writer of Dick Tracy

It's 1932, the height of the Depression, in Marian, Calif. The Bloch family is teetering on the brink of dissolution. Mr. Bloch, widowed and alcoholic, can't or won't find work. Teenage son Albert has lost respect for him and 12-year-old Freddie, mesmerized by Hollywood movies, is too young to comprehend the social forces that are rending the fabric of his life. After the father disappears and Albert is injured trying to steal money for food, Freddie, suddenly alone, heads for his father's last known address in Detroit. He's befriended by Sammy (who calls himself ``the King of Spain''), a troubled and sickly vagabond who teaches him how to survive as a hobo, coping with hunger and the danger of riding the freight trains. The two develop a deeply felt attachment as they travel together, braving labor riots and anti-Semitism. Advancing classic themes, Vance's Harvey Award-winning story of a young man forced to become an adult is touching. Burr's black-and-white drawings are crisply rendered and abound in historical details. This collaboration by two newcomers is an outstanding example of mature comic book storytelling. (Sept.)

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