For most American comics fans, it's pretty safe to say Bryan Talbot isn't a household name in the American comics industry. But he ought to be...

Many of you Neil Gaiman-heads certainly recall Bryan's work throughout the Sandman series, and during that time he produced Mask, one of the more compelling and early Legends of the Dark Knight mini-arcs (continuity and safe movie marketing killed this once-entertaining Batman anthology series). And, earlier this year, Dark Horse published Bryan's dream project, the Quill Award nominee Alice in Sunderland, a hit in the UK, according to the fine folks at Blog@Newsarama.

Published a dozen years ago by Dark Horse, A Tale of One Bad Rat -- the story of a homeless young woman's quest to heal her soul with the help of Beatrix Potter -- remains one of my favorite graphic novels of all time and evidence beyond dispute that comics can entertain and inform in ways prose and movies cannot. Almost forgot, when people try to argue with you that SF and comics don't mix, show 'em a copy of Heart of Empire: The Legacy of Luther Arkwright, a sprawling and wonderful fantasy adventure story.

Before investing your time and money, however, find a copy of The Art of Bryan Talbot, an amazing 96-page art book covering much of the work I've already described, released just this week by NBM.