Part man, part...rock? Over seven feet tall and weighing over a thousand pounds, he is known as Concrete but is in reality the mind of one Ronald Lithgow, trapped inside a shell of stone, a body that allows him to walk unaided on the ocean's floor or survive the crush of a thousand tons of rubble in a collapsed mineshaft...but prevents him from feeling the touch of a human hand. These stories of Concrete are as rich and satisfying as any in comics: funny, heartbreaking, and singularly human. Depths, the first in a series of new collections reprinting the classic early Concrete stories along with never-before-collected short stories, includes the Eisner-nominated "Orange Glow" and "Vagabond," Paul Chadwick's autobiographical account of a cross-country hitchiking trip.
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Possessed of the mind of a mild-mannered mensch in a gigantic, superstrong, rocklike body, Concrete was an early star of the independent comics movement, appearing intermittently since 1986. The character's outlandish origin--he was fashioned by aliens who were never again seen in the series--serves as an improbable but effective device for exploring human nature. Trapped in his granite shell, unable to feel sensual pleasures but graced with heightened senses, Concrete seeks new experiences that only he can attempt, such as a hike across the ocean's floor. Although he occasionally undertakes standard superhero exploits, such as rescuing miners trapped underground, he also engages in decidedly nontraditional jobs, like serving as bodyguard to a dotty, Prince-like rock star. Chadwick accentuates the stories' humanistic bent in his graceful, carefully wrought, black-and-white art. This collection begins a series that reprints Concrete's early appearances and previously uncollected stories by Chadwick, such as the autobiographical "Vagabond" in this volume; recalling a cross-country hitchhiking trip, it hints at how much the creator's character informs that of the creation. Gordon Flagg
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