Mac Raboy: Master of the Comics – Roger Hill (TwoMorrows Publishing)

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It would appear that I’m not as switched on or clued in to the four colour world as I thought I was, as all I knew about Mac Raboy before I burned the midnight oil with Master of the Comics is that he was the creative force behind Flash Gordon after Alex Raymond stepped down, and away, from writing and illustrating the adventures of the hero who saved every one of us. 

While the collected editions of Raboy’s Flash have sat on my shelves for years and been read more times that I care to remember, they’re the only books that bear his name that I’m familiar with. Which is a little embarrassing, as it turns out that Raboy was one of the driving forces behind, and responsible for, changing the face of comics, artistically at least, during the crucial, mid three decades of the twentieth century.  And I’m guessing that the majority of you, like me, either haven’t heard of him or if you have, aren’t exactly au fait with his staggering, and underappreciated contribution to the continuing legacy, and evolution, of comics.

Thing is, there’s a reason that Mac Raboy isn’t as well known in the annals of fandom or treated with the same reverence as Steve Ditko, Bob Kane or Jack Kirby. That reason, it turns out, was Mac Raboy.  There are few known photographs of this fastidiously private and focused artist who let his pencils and illustrations talk for him. He was a mystery and an enigma to everyone but his closest family and refused to let even his dearest friends and colleagues know any more than was absolute necessary about him or his life.

Despite Raboy’s reluctance to engage with anyone from inside the world of comics, Roger Hill has done a superlative job of documenting his slightly strange, intriguing and all brief life. Meticulously researched, filled to bursting with gorgeous art and the sort of story that just makes you want to keep reading, Master of Comics is a wonderful, heart felt ode to a man who should have been a household name and almost certainly would have been had it not been for his apparent disdain for everything bar his work and family.  This is the not so secret history of the man who transformed his chosen medium, remade it in his own image, somehow managed to avoid the limelight and eventually become Master of the Comics.  It’s time to meet Mac. It’s time to meet your master… Tim Cundle

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