I was skeptical of this idea from the start. Not that concept for the book, because I mostly didn’t know that, but the idea of putting out a graphic novel this big all at once without installments. Sure, it makes economic sense, but dammit, I do like the regular installments of a story. The thing is, it’s not like Alex vanished from the planet while he was doing this. Pretty much every convention had him with a new mini comic at the very least, so he didn’t just fall off the planet while he was putting this together. The first Box Office Poison collection is probably in my top twenty of favorite graphic novels ever, so my anticipation level was pretty high for this one. All of which leads me to say that this is my favorite graphic novel so far in this young year, unless of course it came out last year, which is still meaningless to me because I just read it today, 1/23/06. Make sense? Good. This follows the lives of 6 people and shows how their lives eventually converge in one climatic moment. There’s Ray, the former rock star who’s had writer’s block for years now and is trying desperately to get back on top. Nick, a counterfeiter who’s a generally shitty guy. Phoebe, a young woman who’s trying to find her long-lost father, although she’s not sure if she really wants to find him. Steve, an obsessive music fan who’s stuck at a lousy job. Caprice, a waitress who seems to have had enough of relationships. And Lily, who’s temping for a record company. Steve is the most interesting of the bunch, as we get to see his slow descent into madness done in some great and subtle ways, along with getting to see him as an actual human being, not just some crank. Nick suffers from not getting enough attention, or possibly it’s just that there’s not a single thing to make him a remotely likable human being, which makes him a pretty dull character. The others are all in the same general area and run into each other at least a few times in the course of the story, which follows all of those plot lines I mentioned. Overall, I think he’s stumbled onto the formula for success, or at least for keeping me happy. Put out something that’s more or less brilliant like this every five years or so, and in the meantime keep doing a 24 hour comic every now and then so we don’t think that he’s given up on comics. If you like just losing yourself for an afternoon in a good graphic novel, this is a pretty damned good one to get lost in.