Martin Vaughn-James’s The Cage was a huge oddity when it was first published by Coach House Press in 1975: a “visual novel” that enigmatically combined words and images about a desiccated industrial wasteland in way that seemed closer to the avant-garde fiction Alain Robbe-Grillet than to Superman or Mickey Mouse. The Cage was in fact a “graphic novel” before the form was popularized by more famous works like Art Spiegelman’s Maus. Long out of print, it was for many decades more a rumour than living influence. Thanks to this new reissue we can appreciate how ahead of the curve Vaughn-James was.
Jeet Heer is the author of In Love With Art: Françoise Mouly’s Adventures in Comics with Art Spiegelman