Hicksville by Dylan Horrocks (1998) 248 p.
I’ve never been a fan of superheroes, which means in turn that I’ve never been a fan of comics, even though I like the art form. (It’s a pain in the ass to find acclaimed comics that don’t feature superheroes, although this Goodreads list is quite helpful.) Hicksville isn’t a superhero story, but it is a meta-work about superhero comics, following a journalist trying to trace the origin of a hugely successful cartoonist by travelling to his hometown of Hicksville in an obscure corner of New Zealand; an odd little place where everybody is obsessed with comics.
I can’t remember the last time I cracked out the Field of Dreams analogy, but it goes like this: you will never understand the love that certain people (always Americans or Canadians) have for the Kevin Costner film Field of Dreams unless you grew up playing baseball and have a deep and overwhelming sense of nostalgia about it. Hicksville works much the same way. I can see how a comics tragic would adore it. As an outsider I can look at it, and respect it, and didn’t feel it was a waste of my time; but I could easily tell that I wasn’t the target audience.