I swear that I picked up The Book of Leviathan by Peter Blegvad at Gosh Comics in 2002, but the book has an American pricetag on it. It was an odd find, but I consider it one of the best things I’ve ever stumbled upon.
According to the introduction, these were originally released in the Independent on Sunday, a London newspaper. I find this odd because – although Leviathan is a “gag-a-day” strip – it doesn’t feel like a comic that one finds in the newspaper. By that, I mean that Leviathan is more clever than funny, which makes calling it a “gag-a-day” strip seem like a serious misnomer. Here, try one of the strips and see what I mean.
The majority of the strips in the book are just like that. With only a few rare exceptions, they each stand on their own – defendant only the reader’s ability to know that the baby in green is Leviathan. There are obvious comparisons to Walt Kelly, Gary Larson, Berke Breathed, Garry Trudeau and Bill Waterson to be made, but the Far Side and Calvin and Hobbes are probably the closest in tone. The pages are filled with play of all kinds – wordplay, playing with the format of the page, playing with the reader’s expectations. There is a kind of delight that comes from turning the page and not knowing what’s next.
From a purely aesthetic point of view, the book itself is very nice. The pages have a nice red on the edges and the design is very tactile and immediate. If you are the kind of person who doesn’t understand the question “why would you buy a hardback book,” then you might enjoy the Book of Leviathan. Readers who enjoy something fun and clever as a mental snack would absolutely enjoy this. Unless you don’t.