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The Big Book of Freaks

Posted By: Plesiosaurus

"The Big Book of Freaks: 50 Amazing True Tales of Human Oddities" DC Comics | ISBN 1563892189 | 1996 Year | JPG | ~112 Mb | 224 Pages

Written by respected cartoonist, Gahan Wilson (appropriately so since he is a direct descendant of P.T. Barnum), this is a fascinating look at the history of freaks in real life and in the media and treats the subject with a great deal of reverence and respect. Wilson goes beyond merely presenting the histories of various famous freaks, but also examines why we are so fascinated by them and laments the fact that with advances in genetics they may be a dying breed (with the exception of self-made freaks like those in the Jim Rose Circus).

Wilson begins with the historical roots of the sideshow, with the wild speculations about possible creatures that might exist in the days when much of the world was unexplored, to the fake freaks created for medieval carnivals and self-mutilated beggars, to the modern circus and portrayals in movies such as Tod Browning's "Freaks". In addition to such articles on specific themes are the histories of particular individuals ranging from the famous (the Elephant Man) to the not-so-famous (a "Lobster Man" who committed a murder in a Florida town composed almost entirely of retired circus freaks). The stories range from the heartwarming to the heartbreaking, the humourous to the serious, and include romance and adventure, but all of them treat the unusual individuals who are their subjects as human beings, with all the same potentials as well as the character flaws of any person, and avoids being exploitative. My personal favourite is the article drawn by Ivan Brunetti illustrating how ALL human beings are freakish and are constantly undergoing strange transformations.

The accompanying illustrations are also superb. This is definitely one of the best in the Big Books series.

From a review on Amazon.