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If Hobbes Was A Monster Instead Of A Stuffed Tiger

It has previously been that these pages have written about Kean Soo’s journal comic, exitmusic; there was a brief mention there of his current project, Jellaby. At that time Jellaby was on hiatus, but it’s been back for a couple weeks now. It’s high time we talked about it. Jellaby is giving Little Dee a run for its money as the most Calvin and Hobbes-esque webcomic; where Chris Baldwin tends to work with short storylines of a week or two interspersed with gag-a-day strips, Kean Soo has one big story in Jellaby: the story of a sweet feisty little girl and her monster.

Portia, the girl, is kind of isolated — half by being extremely bright, and half by circumstance. One night she finds weird dreams besetting her, and outside the window is … well, we’re not sure, but I’d say it’s a lost monster child. And lost children mean you gotta do what’s right, even when things get dangerous. Or worse: when Mom could find out that your new monster is very, very hungry. Funny thing about those lost kids you find: they learn lessons, like how bullies need to be dealt with. That’s Jason, by the way, getting hassled by the big kids; he and Portia don’t seem to like each other too much at the moment, but there are some really nifty short stories that imply at some point, Jason gets to be friends with Portia and Jellaby.

And when you’ve made your way through the archives (there’s not much, what are you waiting for?), check out the Jellaby art. Some of it’s from enormously talented artists and friends, but I think the best is Soo’s “Homage” line. He’s imagined Jellaby and Portia into well known bits of comics and animation, with surprisingly good results. There’s a book version, too, which has the single coolest feature in the history of indy/small-press comics: you can cut a Totoro-inspired image out and paste it back into other pages to make a pop-up book. It takes about two minutes and it looks great. So what are you waiting for? Get cracking on the archives, watch how a lonely girl and lost monster help each other grow up. It’s heartwarming. It’s beautifully drawn. It’s stunningly original. It’s just plain fun.

Glad to see the comic rolling again – the art and humor make for a really enjoyable read.

The oversized heads still wig me out a little, though.

Good post, but just looking at your post… are there more words in green/links than actual non-link words?

Meh, Jellaby seems to try a little too hard at being precious. But then maybe kids are the target audience, not me. I find Kean’s journal comic more appealing. About the oversized heads… Portia’s head seems more like that of a grown woman. Adult head, kid body. Gah! Aside from that stylistic choice, the art is nifty.

Good comic, but I’d say the prize for most Calvin and Hobbes-esque would have to go to Copper. It’s not the same format, but try and tell me the dialogue doesn’t scream C&H.

I’m not sure that Little Dee is a good C&H equivalent, as the kid doesn’t even talk and the focus is on group happenings in a forest setting, rather than suburban two-person philosophizing. It strikes me as more Pogo meets Far Side.

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