In the hands of underground-comic pioneer Spain Rodriguez, the 1946 William Lindsay Gresham novel (later a 1947 movie) gets the cartoon treatment its subjects--hustling and degradation in a 1930s carnival--beg for. Magician Stanton Carlisle hatches a plan to pose as a spiritualist to con rich marks, in the process revealing the family history that destroyed his faith in God and man. Nightmare Alley (Fantagraphics; 129 pages) is an existential novel wrapped in a noir chiller, and Rodriguez's lurid drawings strike just the right balance of sheen and sleaze. Step right up. --J.P.