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Fantagraphics reissues one of the first graphic novels, created by Vancouver comics pioneer

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Art from Beyond Time and Again by George Metzger.

Book launch – George Metzger, Beyond Time and Again at Pulp Fiction Books, Vancouver, April 15 2016

A piece of comics history by a Vancouver-based artist is getting a second chance. Seattle publisher Fantagraphics Books (under the imprint Fantagraphics Underground Press) is reissuing Beyond Time and Again by George Metzger.

– by Shawn Conner

According to the Fantagraphics website, “In 1967, George Metzger began serializing his counterculture comic strip Beyond Time and Again in underground West coast newspapers, combining high fantasy with prescient views of science, climate change, and political authoritarianism. Faithfully reproduced, for the first time, from the original art, this comix collection brings Metzger’s exquisite craft and mind-bending imagination to a new generation.”

To celebrate the new edition of the book, George will appear at Pulp Fiction Books (2422 Main St.) in Vancouver on Friday, April 15. He’ll be joined by another expat local cartoonist, Brandon Graham, for a short talk before signing. Graham will sign his own works as well, including Prophet, King City, Multiple Warheads, and the anthology Island.

After moving to Vancouver, Metzger contributed work to local series Fog City Comix as well as the free weekly The Georgia Straight.

With Seventh Sons, high priests, sacred mushrooms, half-naked wood nymphs, and “Mountains of Chrystal Madness,” the story seems like fairly typical ’70s stoner/bong-inspired wizard stuff – at least until it takes a turn to dark sci-fi (“I will augment your body with machine strength and senses perfecting cybernetics”). It’s the art that is definitely the selling point; Metzger’s fluid line is obviously inspired by EC Comics masters like Wally Wood as run through the trippy mind-warp style of visual storytelling of the underground comix era. This edition of Beyond Time and Again was shot from the original artwork.

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Art from Beyond Time and Again by George Metzger.

According to his Wiki bio, Metzger was born in 1939 in Illinois. “He was an underground comics artist during the mid-1960s and early 1970s in California, eventually relocating to Canada, where he worked in animation.” One of the studios he worked at was Marv Newland‘s International Rocketship Limited, which produced the infamous short “Bambi Meets Godzilla” (1969).

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Beyond Time and Again is considered by some to be among the first graphic novels. According to this article by comics historian Paul Levitz, “[Early comics fan Richard] Kyle, with Denis Wheary, collected underground cartoonist George Metzger’s Beyond Time and Again in hardcover book form in 1976 with the subtitle “a graphic novel” on its title page, around the same moment when Morningstar Press’s edition of Richard Corben’s Bloodstar used the term on its flap…”

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The cover for the new Fantagraphics edition of Beyond Time and Again.

According to a bio on the Lambiek website, “He [Metzger] additionally specialized in fantasy comics, and created Moondog, an underground comic which ran through Print Mint from 1969 until 1973. He also contributed to Gothic Blimp Works and Bill Spicer‘s Graphic Story Magazine, as well as the comic Laugh in the Dark in 1971. In 1978, Kitchen Sink Press published his Mu, the Land that Never Was.”

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