Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Monkey vs Robot x2

My last trip to the library was like striking gold. Two more books I picked up while I was there are James Kochalka's Monkey vs Robot and Monkey vs Robot and the Crystal of Power. Prior to writing this I went to his website for American Elf. It's a really cute strip. Like Monkey vs Robot, American Elf isn't written for children. Kochalka is also the Author of Johnny Boo, which is geared toward kids, and his seemingly simple style would be at home in a children's title, just as it would in a newspaper comics section. I say seemingly, because his art is pretty great, and on closer scrutiny isn't all that simple in the first place.

American Elf is something I will go back and read now, and have some commentary on in the future, but for right now, it's all about the Monkeys (and Robots). This book is mostly free of dialog, and completely free of written narrative. It is overflowing with sound effects however. The second book has more talking in it, and the monkeys have picked up some english by that point, but most of the actual words come from the Robots in both books. Each book is done entirely in one color. The first is green, and the second is purple. The art is extremely good. I don't know at what point in my life I became enlightened and started appreciating the wide range of art in comics. There was a time when I was so put off by art in comics that was anything other than 100% mainstream that, for instance I stopped reading New Mutants when Bill Sienkiewicz made everyone all tall and skinny and strange looking.

These books chronicle some of the struggles between two very different groups existing in the same jungle. This is violent stuff. They seem cute, but there is plenty of crushing and breaking and burning and destruction. Are these books making a point of some sort? They sure could be. I think the reader can pick the struggle they want it to embody, such as nature vs technology, and have it mean what they want it to, or they can just read it as an account, and enjoy it either way. 

These are exceptionally quick reads, but I have found myself going frequently back through both of them and focusing on a lot of the pages individually.There are a lot of patterns and a lot of design in the pages. Panels with rain and mist in them are some of my favorites. I enjoyed both books, but the first is my favorite. 

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