Fraggle Rock #3 (Archaia) A graphic novel collecting this, as well as the first, second and fourth issues, shipped this week, so a review of the third issue probably a little pointless at this point, but, well, pointlessness has never prevented me from writing something on this blog before.
This is another issue split into several stories each by a different creative team. The first, “Where Have All The Doozers Gone?” is written by Adrianne Amborse and drawn by Joanna Estep.
Like the stories contained in the first issue, it’s a pretty ideal Fraggle Rock story in that it’s concerned with the balance of the universe, and how one element being out of balance can gum up the whole works…while focusing on comedy and little, close-to-home adventures, rather than pounding home the messaging.
Cotterpin, the rebellious Doozer who is friends with Red Fraggle, has convinced her fellow Doozers into building a sort of Doozer Tower of Babel. They place it out in the Gorgs’ garden and don’t want any Fraggles eating it, resulting in the Fraggles going hungry and the Gorgs eventually perceiving the structure as some sort of threat.
Estep draws great Doozers and pretty good Gorgs, and most of the Fraggles are pretty nicely done, although there’s a tendency to give some of ‘em fish-like faces, and this one named Large Marvin is pretty horrifying looking.
It’s followed by Grace Randolph and Whitney Leith’s “Party, Doozer Style!”, a four-page gag strip in which we learn exactly how it is that Doozer’s party (once they learn what partying is, of course), and Bryce P. Coleman and Michael DiMotta’s “To Catch a Fwaggle,” in which we learn a little bit (perhaps too much?) about the inner life of Junior Gorg and his desires to catch Fraggles.
The art in these last two features struck me as a bit stronger than that of the first, but perhaps because they are more stylistically different. Leith draws super-cute Doozers, and draws the story down at Doozer-eye level, so that when Red appears in the last panel, she looks gigantic to readers. DiMotta’s art has a painterly sheen to it, with a lot of dappled light and warm colors, and he pulls off a pretty great trick of making Junior look like a man in a well-constructed suit.
Mermin #3 In the third issue of Joey Weiser’s self-published minicomic about a grade school-aged merman named Mermin, our hero flees the home of his human friend, not wanting to cause him further trouble, and retreats to the tree house.
There he finds one of his old friends from his underwater world waiting…plus that cool-looking whale-man from the previous issue.
A couple of pages of combat involving two pretty cute, simply-designed protagonists ensues:Sure, it’s slight, but I’m still really enjoying it.
Mouse Guard: Legends of the Guard #3 (Archaia) Nothing has changed with this third issue of David Petersen’s Canterbury Tales-like, invitational anthology, other than the fact that this particular issue features four short stories by creators other than Petersen, embedded in his framing sequence of mice in a tavern in a tale-telling contest.
All four stories are pretty great, and there’s perhaps a greater variety of art styles between the four of them than was evidenced in previous issues. I only had some reservations abut one of them, and only for nitpicky, think-to-much-about-it reasons.
The first is “A Mouse Named Fox,” by Katie Cook. In her regular super-cute style she tells a very fairy tale-like story, about a childless (pup-less?) couple of foxes who find and raise an orphaned mouse on their own, and their son’s journey into the world, where he meets his first mice and the first fox he’s not actually related too. The second—and my favorite—is a short, wordless story by Guy Davis, in which a (guard?) mouse notes a young mouse’s artwork featuring a valiant mouse slaying an owl, and he decides to set about slaying an owl himself. It turns out to be a lot harder than the young artist made it look. The artwork is a lot more stripped-down and simple than what we usually see from Davis, which makes it a little refreshing (On top of just being great art work). Additionally, Davis has the mice speak to one another in Owly-ish pictograms, so that the dialogue bubbles each contain little pictures, which are themselves a slightly more stripped-down and simplified version of Davis’ already stripped-down and simplified artwork here and…it’s just incredible. Man, I can’t tell you how excited I was to read this story…it’s comics within comics. I love it. Next up was “The Ballad of Nettledown” by Nate Pride, and while the story is another neat riff on a fairy or folk tale sort of story, and the artwork lovely, I’m afraid I didn’t much care for this one, as it is told by a mouse bard, and thus sung. (For what it’s worth, I’m the sort of reader who always skipped the songs in Tolkien’s novels, so my dislike of this story is certainly a matter of personal taste—the form certainly fits the context of the series and the franchise in general).
The final story is “The Raven” by Jason Shawn Alexander, who takes all of the dialogue from Edgar Allan Poe’s poem (And Poe is credited with a “Written by”). Alexander gives his mouse a very realistic face and head, although its nicely animated, and the lettering is incorporated into the art rather beautifully. Sure the joke is a one-note one, and maybe at six-pages it goes on way too long, but it’s a nice-looking piece (and I was surprised it didn’t end in the surprise way I was expecting, given the fact that the narrator is now a mouse, even though the raven is still a raven).
The thing is, this story is set in the twelfth century, and Poe wasn’t even born for another 700 years yet.
That is literally the worst thing about this comic.