Drawn & Quarterly, an almost quarterly periodical published in Montreal, is the classiest comics anthology on the market. Each issue has knockout stories, rich-but-never-slick art work, and generous design, paper and printing. Vol. 2, No. 3 (May 1995) is wrapped in jazzy cubist/deco/ultra-postmodern cover and endpapers by J. D. King, and has four great stories inside. The first is "Johnny and Babe" by Graham Chaffee. In sparkly black-and-white frames, Babe works on the roof and tells Johnny the story of the prodigal son, while another narrative—about Fernando and his beloved wife, April May June—unfolds intermittently in full-page watercolour panels. The piece is layered and mysterious, but not arty. "Bicycle Thief" by Pentti Otsamo, a Finnish comics artist, is about a stolen bicycle, urban alienation and existential despair—all in six pages. The panels are painted in muted colours, and they look almost abstract until you notice each brushstroke is jam-packed with information. Canada's own Maurice Vellekoop wrote and drew "Side Door Lover" in hand-tinted -postcard '50s camp-romp style ("Beau!! You? Here? But how on earth?" "At last I've found you!"). But it's got steak as well as sizzle. The romantic leads in the story are men, and nobody bats an eye. With the lightest touch, Vellekoop lampoons romance, lust, heterosexism, family—you name it. "It Was the War of the Trenches" by Jacques Tardi (translated by Kate Sibbald) is set in France, Tardi's homeland, during World War One. The drawings are haunting black-white-and-greys on horizontal panels, stacked up three to a page like cinema screens. Tardi rants in voice-over: "And you, soldier from Indochina, the French have surely shown you their country! ... Forty years from now a little gully far from here will serve as the common grave for the soldiers of the French army, and the German legionnaires among them, that you will surround and kill as you liberate your country.” This kind of talk can get sentimental or preachy, but here, surrounded by rats and mud and corpses and charred trees and maimed, broken men, the words bring the "Great War" right to the present. I hope Tardi's government is paying attention. In this number and all others, Drawn & Quarterly presents material that busts out of the term "comics" and leaves it in the dust.