His follow-up, RASL, is very different. No cartoony homunculi here; it's dark and grown-up and eerie. The protagonist, a guy who travels between dimensions with an African mask and a quartet of jet engines strapped to his limbs, can't always tell what world he's in — and if you tried to follow RASL as it came out in monthly installments, you were similarly confused. Now that the first seven issues have been collected, it may make more sense. Or not. Either way, it's deliciously intriguing.

MAD'S GREATEST ARTISTS: SERGIO ARAGONÉS | FOREWORD BY PATRICK O'DONNELL | RUNNING PRESS | 272 PAGES | $29.95 | Sergio Aragonés arrived at Mad magazine with a shaky grasp of English but a deft touch with humor. Accordingly, the editors put him to work drawing "silent" comics that relied entirely on imagery for their effect. With the exception of the occasional dip into captions or labels, Aragonés proceeded to draw five decades' worth of comics without using a single word.

The best of those comics are compiled here. While it's always slightly unnerving to see Mad magazine content in glossy, coffee-table-book hardcover, Aragonés's humor is as sharp now as it ever was — whether it's a gag about hippies in the '60s, or about airport security in the aughts.

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