by Ben Katchor

Pantheon, $25.95, 128 pages

When you hold the handle of this book, it appears to be an overstuffed suitcase. When you open the book you’ll see it is definitely overstuffed with cartoonist Ben Katchor’s comic strips. The Cardboard Valise is Katchor’s latest graphic novel. Fans have waited ten years for this release. If you are new to his work keep in mind this is not your Sunday Funny Pages type of comic. Katchor comments on modern life, city life and urban landscape. His characters are very real. You may feel you’ve met them. The collection of strips is set in Fluxion City and the stories tell of everyday things that happen there. There are three main characters who rarely meet. Emile Delilah loves to travel. The government pays him to go to the exotic regions of Outer Canthus. He really enjoys seeing the crumbling ruins of a once-great functioning public urinal. Boreal Rince lives in the same area as Emile. Boreal is the exiled king of Outer Canthus. Finally, Elijah Salamis, a nationalist, wants to destroy all the cultural and geographic boundaries of the Earth. Katchor weaves these characters into a complicated and memorable story. Use the handle to take this valise anywhere.

Reviewed by Elizabeth Franklin