Monday, 14 February 2011

Review: The Wolf’s Whistle, Bjorn Rune Lie

Bjorn Rune Lie | Nobrow, 2010 | 15.5 x 22 cm | 32 pages | Available now

The Wolf’s Whistle isn’t so much of a wolf in sheep’s clothing, as it is a wolf adorned with an amazing Technicolor dreamcoat. Artist/writer Bjorn Rune Lie eviscerates the well-known Three Little Pigs fable and stuffs it with a tasty mix of crime-thriller and costumed-vigilantism in this genre-blurring, half-comic, half-storybook prequel. If that wasn’t the most unnecessarily grotesque introduction to a review of a children’s book ever, I don’t know what is.

To start with, the book emits a mysterious air. Its handsome, pulp noir-inspired cover gives readers some gentle clues about what to expect inside. The back-lit silhouette of a costumed, anthropomorphic, wolf-eared hero looking down on the scene of a crime is more of a visual leitmotif than an accurate portrayal of its contents. Ostensibly functioning as an origin story of the costumed-vigilante known as The Lone Wolf, it actually provides an alternative back-story to the infamous incident between The Big Bad Wolf and the three fraternal pigs.

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Review: KLAUS 1 & 2, Dicky Short

Dicky Short | Self-released, 2010 | 2x 24p, black and white | Available now

When Umberto Eco described Charlez Schulz as a poet in his 1963 introduction to the first Italian collection of Peanuts, he openly admitted the statement was intended to grab the ire of the cultural custodians of the day. The gall of the man! By lauding Schulz’ ability to convey the complex emotionality of human existence through his dialogue and subtle manipulation of rhythm and visual language, Eco elevated Peanuts to the status of art. Today, although still ghettoised in the big, pop-cultural picture, you’d be hard pressed to find comic readers—of everything from Persepolis to Power Girl—who would dispute that status.

From the strip format’s syndicated newspaper heyday in the late 20th century to the web-comic rush of the internet era, very few artists have managed to capture the same lyricism as Schulz in their work. Stepping up to the Herculean plate is Richard “Dicky” Short, creator of Klaus, a four-panel web-come-print comic following the exploits of a pensive anthropomorphic cat of the same name. One part Peanuts, one part Jim Woodring’s Frank, Klaus transplants the myogenic spirit of the classic strip comic into a new, slightly stranger yet similarly robust body. Like a Hunt 102-weilding Victor Frankenstein, Short isn’t afraid to experiment, and readers may soon find themselves absorbed in the witty, contemplative, and warped world of cat-people, humanoid rodents, and metaphysical ruminations.