Skip to navigationSkip to content
NO EXIT

The first comic book from the high-brow New York Review of Books is about the joy of despair

Courtesy New York Review Comics
True that.
By Thu-Huong Ha
Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

There are few things as uplifting as the misfortunes of fictional buffoons.

Mark Beyer’s Agony, the debut graphic novel from The New York Review of Books’s new comic imprint, revels in the joy and absurdity of despair. First published in 1987 and reissued this week (March 22) from the high-brow house’s New York Review Comics, Agony is a bleak, chuckle-inducing book that will pull you out from the inky waters of existential crisis.

The book follows Amy and Jordan, a city-dwelling couple caught in an onslaught of misfortune. They’re in and out of the hospital as they get limbs hacked off and contract unnamed diseases in their home city and the places they fail to escape to.

In his introduction, novelist Colson Whitehead likens Beyer to Beckett, writing:

“Agony is one of the most hilarious books I’ve ever read, but again, your mileage will vary depending on your feelings about the inherent comedy of suicide by acid bath, peanut-loving sea creatures, and forfeiting the security deposit on your apartment because you’ve saturated every surface with blood.”

See a selection from the newly released title:

Courtesy New York Review Comics
Courtesy New York Review Comics
Courtesy New York Review Comics
Courtesy New York Review Comics
Courtesy New York Review Comics
Courtesy New York Review Comics

📬 Kick off each morning with coffee and the Daily Brief (BYO coffee).

By providing your email, you agree to the Quartz Privacy Policy.