Reid Fleming, World’s Toughest Milkman Volume 1: written and illustrated by David Boswell (Collected 2011): London, Ontario’s native son David Boswell made quite a splash in Indy comics in the 1980’s with Reid Fleming and Heartbreak Comics — the late, great Harvey Pekar was a fan, for one.
This first IDW volume collects the first few issues of Fleming and the stand-alone (though connected) story of Heartbreak Comics in a nice, over-sized format. Fleming’s artwork can be fine-lined and immensely detailed at points; the larger reprint size helps a lot with keeping things crisp and clear.
Surreal and comic, Boswell’s work occupies some droll territory that borders Eraserhead, Krazy Kat, and E.C. Segar’s Popeye strips of the 1920’s and 1930’s. This isn’t a superhero comic or a funny animal comic or even a humour strip, not exactly. It’s a richly detailed and supremely odd world; its own thing, which is a rare instance in comics (or films, or books).
The plot, complex as it can sometime seems, is built upon a simple premise: Reid Fleming delivers milk. He’s a guy who takes no crap, so he gets in fights with people. Milk trucks get demolished. Reid gets in trouble with his supervisor. Reid gets out of trouble. Odd things happen. It’s all weird and charming and internally consistent — Boswell has created his own world, with its own strange rules. And then there’s that soap opera starring the walking skeleton… Highly recommended.