The webcomics blog about webcomics

Fleen Book Corner: Holiday Special

So we’re full into the holiday season; whatever tradition you may follow, there’s an excuse to get well-fed and well-boozed with friends and/or family about now, plus or minus ten days. And at these times, we generally try to find the best things about ourselves, and today I have two books to share that I believe reflect the best of [web]comicry talent.

First up, The Kids’s Book Project, a benefit for the Make-A-Wish Foundation, spearheaded by Mike Rouse-Deane, and with more contributors than you can shake a stick at (I wrote ’em all up here last month, and I ain’t doing it again so make with the clicky).

Rouse-Deane gave each of his 50+ contributor’s one thing to look at: the page before the one they would be drawing, and the one after. One group of creators started at the forward and worked forward, the other at the end and worked back, and from there it’s an exercise in wandering digression that somehow comes back to a resolution of the original story.

Without giving too much away, I’ll note that the previously released image comprises page three, and that the story (at least at first, and then again at the end) concerns a pair of children named John Alexander Petdander Orlean and Susie James. It’s a fun ride, with much flipping to the back of the book to confirm who drew what. In fact, there’s only one thing missing and that may be the most important thing:

Mike Rouse-Deane has neglected to list his name anywhere in the book. Title page, intro, credits at the back, nothing. I suspect that he’s trying to not steal focus from the creators or the cause, but I’m calling shenanigans on that modesty. You put together a hell of a good project, Mike, and you ought to take a bow.

Secondly, something that I didn’t think I’d get to read yet. The always clued-in JRo let us know that the major booksellers moved up the street date of Kazu Kibuishi’s Amulet; two hours later I was in the local Barnes & Noble (who appear to be shelving it in the children’s section) and breaking out my wallet.

Forget a body of work that spans the achingly wonderful Copper, the spare and unexpected Daisy Kutter, and sitting in the driver’s seat of the brilliant Flight anthologies. Kibuishi has just left those projects in the dust and announced himself as one of the premier talents in comics with Amulet Book One: The Stonekeeper.

If not for the fact that he’s still alive, I’d swear that Kibuishi was the reincarnation of Hayao Miyazaki, because Amulet reminds me of nothing so much as a Miyazaki story. All of the Ghibli touches are there: characters with open, simple, but incredibly expressive faces; the choice of the young girl (not quite ready to be a woman) as the protagonist; the stylish, otherworldly, and lovingly-crafted flying machines; the landscapes and critters that clearly come from a dream world that isn’t all rainbows and lollipops.

Into this mix are thrust Emily and her younger brother Navin; their mother has been taken from their new home by a nightmarish menace made of tentacles and teeth. When you’re a girl who’s already lost her father these circumstances demand you do whatever you need to do to get your mother back. In this case what needs to be done means accepting the help of a mysterious and long-lost great-grandfather, and taking on the powers and burdens of a magic stone in the titular amulet.

An amulet which, as it so happens, has its own views on things; at more than one point, the reader is left wondering exactly what price Emily will have to pay to save her family. With barely the initial setup to the story finished, it’s clear that this isn’t one of those happily ever after kinds of stories … it’s one of those nobody said getting what you wanted will make you happy stories, or maybe one of the sadder but wiser kind. It’s a new kind of all-ages literature, of a sort with BONE, and sure to please anybody you might choose to gift it to.

And best of all? If Book One released early, maybe that means that Books Two through as many as we can get Kibuishi to write will release early, as well. Right now, I’m ready to curl up with about a thousand more pages of Amulet.

[…] reading now and call this review a five-star rave. For those willing to risk it, spoilers ahoy. In my review of the previous Amulet volume (nearly two years ago — stories this good take time to produce), I compared Kibuishi to Hayao […]

[…] picked up Kazu Kibuishi’s third book in the Amulet series (see writeups of the first two here and here) this week, and want to talk about it. Be forewarned, though — I’m going to […]

[…] does whimsical quite like Clements; I’d go so far as to say that much like Kazu Kibuishi is channeling the spirit of Miyazaki², Clements is on occasion possessed by Dr Suess (with the disclaimer that I don’t think […]

RSS feed for comments on this post.