Rex Libris #6 (Slave Labor Graphics)

rexheaderThe tale of a stone-faced librarian who wields an Uzi and blade as easily as his MLS.



24 pgs B&W; $2.95

(W/A: James Turner)



Fresh from a trip to Benzine V and with the Principia Mathematica in his possession, librarian Rex Libris returns to the Middleton Public Library just in time to rescue a patron who has been sucked into another monstrous tome via Reading Rainbow mechanics. From the brain of James Turner (creator of NIL: A Land Beyond Belief) comes the tale of a stone-faced librarian who wields an Uzi and blade as easily as his MLS, with coke-bottle glasses and an attitude that says, "Just try it." Fortunately for readers, there are many baddies who do try it, and manage to tangle Rex in a series of unendingly complicated challenges.


This time around, Rex encounters the many-tentacled kraken, a zombie-filled city, insectoid okapis and alkuntanes, and if that's not enough, cannibal babies. All of this should really come as no surprise, considering the man works for Thoth, a 2000-year-old Egyptian scribal god, and shares company with Simonides, a philosopher-turned-budgie. Librarians and less literary-minded readers alike will dazzle at Rex's serendipitous navigation and ability to take each escalating obstacle in stride. Despite its relatively simple plotting, the story still manages to be enjoyable, perhaps more for the hat-tipping that Turner seems to give librarians. If anything, the tale upends previous stereotypes of the nerdy, pacing shusher, and shows readers the possibility of a world of secrets stretching far beyond the circulation desk.


Turner seems to favor simplicity in his artwork, blocky shapes, minimalist surroundings, and the strange sort of stylization that smacks of Legos. Rex's expressions are few, limited to the various shades of disbelief and agitation, most accompanied by a Groucho Marx-style side-mouthing, minus the cigar. Because the subject matter is so outlandish, the artwork seems to encourage the tone, with unlikely pairing and deceptively cartoonish crawlies that make the violence never quite real, or at least false enough to produce a laugh that won't makes readers question their moral centers.


Don't get confused, this is a light story. Turner knows it, and readers will as well, but that's what makes it a pleasure. There's fun to be had with this, and a sense of humor that steals from the librarian that cobwebby sense of the erudite and replaces it with absurdity and, ultimately, affability. And while not all librarians' lives might be as exciting as Rex's, they certainly warrant a little attention from time to time, and it's encouraging to know that people like Turner are out there letting them know that. | James Nokes

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