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Tag: graphic novel

Of Cloak and Fangs Vol.12, If It Isn’t You…, by Alain Ayroles & Jean-Luc Masbou – Book Review by Fred Patten

by Pup Matthias

Submitted by Fred Patten, Furry’s favorite historian and reviewer.

De Cape et de Crocs. Acte 12, Si Ce N’Est Toi…, by Alain Ayroles & Jean-Luc Masbou.
Paris, Delcourt, November 2016, hardbound €14,50 (47 [+3] pages).

The Fred Patten & Lex Nakashima plan to bring you the best French-language talking-animal comics has a real winner this time: Of Cloak and Fangs. Vol. 12, If It Isn’t You…, the twelfth & final(!) volume of De Cape et de Crocs, the 17th-century swashbuckling series parodying Cyrano de Bergerac, Molière, Montesquieu, and Co. that has been running since 1995.

Confusingly, volume 10 was originally announced as the end of the series. The main characters through vol. 10 are two wandering gentleman-swordsmen, Armand Raynal de Maupertuis (French fox) and Don Lope de Villalobos y Sangrin (Spanish wolf). They are introduced in 17th-century Venice, then a powerful Mediterranean nation. In the first volume they are betrayed and sentenced to serve as galley-slaves in Venice’s navy, where they meet fellow-slave Eusèbius, the cutest bunny-rabbit in the world. They escape, bringing Eusèbius with them. Eusèbius becomes their loyal squire-valet for the rest of the series, through adventures in Europe and on the Moon; so naïve and self-effacing that you almost forget he’s there. Volume 10 appeared to wrap everything up with a happily-ever-after ending, but the ten albums never said what the cutest bunny-rabbit in the world was doing as a Venetian galley-slave when they met him. Did readers demand an explanation? Volumes 11 and 12 answer the question.

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Franko: Fables of the Last Earth, by Cristóbal Jofré and Ángel Bernier – review by Fred Patten.

by Patch O'Furr

Submitted by Fred Patten, Furry’s favorite historian and reviewer.

Franco_front-cover_SC-lgFranko: Fables of the Last Earth, by Cristóbal Jofré and Ángel Bernier
St. Paul, MN, Sofawolf Press, July 2016, hardcover $39.95 (v + 128 pages), trade paperback $19.95.

Franko: Fables of the Last Earth is a collection of six cartoon-art fables written by Ángel Bernier and illustrated by Cristóbal Jofré, printed in full color on glossy paper. The word “fables” is carefully chosen; these are gentle, mystical adventures in the tradition of “magic realism” favored by many Latin American authors.

Franko is a young anthropomorphic lion adolescent living in the Atacama Desert of Chile at the “end of civilization on Earth”, with his slightly older lion friend Shin. The Atacama is known as the driest place on Earth, but as backpackers and other travelers will tell you, the deserts have their own special beauty. These six short fables display it with a quiet wonder.

Franko and Shin are lion farmers at the opposite ends of adolescence – Franko appears to be a thirteen-year-old, while the more irresponsible Shin appears about nineteen (and is addicted to gambling). Both embody the exuberance of youth. They and Mana, the ghost of Shin’s grandmother, are the only recurring characters. Mana is the voice of wisdom who tempers the rashness and naïvete of the two youngsters.

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Housepets! Don’t Ask Questions, by Rick Griffin – book review by Fred Patten

by Patch O'Furr

Submitted by Fred Patten, Furry’s favorite historian and reviewer.

housepets_book7_cover-preview-237x300Housepets! Don’t Ask Questions (Book 7), by Rick Griffin
Seattle, WA, CreateSpace, November 2016, trade paperback $13.95 (52 pages).

Here, right on schedule, is the new annual collection of the Housepets! online comic strip by Rick Griffin. Housepets! has appeared each Monday-Wednesday-Friday since June 2, 2008. It has won the Ursa Major Award for the Best Anthropomorphic Comic Strip for every year since! – for 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015.

Book 7 contains the strips from June 16, 2014 to June 1, 2015; story arcs #78, “Heaven’s Not Enough, part 2”, to #90, “All’s Fair, part 1”, plus the one-off gag strips before and between these.

Housepets! presents the adventures of the dogs, cats, ferrets, rabbits, and other pets of Babylon Gardens, a typical residential suburban neighborhood – in an alternate universe. The animals are larger than in our universe (but not human-sized), can talk, are usually bipedal, and address their human owners as “Mom” and “Dad”. Their status is somewhere between pets and children. Points established over the years are that humans can bequeath their belongings to their pets, who do not need a human guardian; human storekeepers are not allowed to sell catnip to cats; human police forces have an auxiliary of Police Dogs who are not all police dogs; the pets comment sardonically on how they can go naked in public but their human “parents” can’t; and – lots of other stuff.

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Les Ailes du Singe. T.1, Wakanda, by Etienne Willem – Book Review by Fred Patten

by Pup Matthias

Submitted by Fred Patten, Furry’s favorite historian and reviewer.

1969_couvLes Ailes du Singe. T.1, Wakanda, by Étienne Willem.
Geneva, Switzerland, Éditions Paquet, May 2016, hardbound €14,00 (48 pages).

This is another fine entry in Lex Nakashima’s & my project to bring American furry fans the best of new French-language animalière bandes dessinées. We covered Étienne Willem’s previous four-volume L’Épée d’Ardenois, set about the 13th century with knights in armor. Les Ailes du Singe, The Wings of the Monkey, is considerably different. It’s set in New York in 1933, with knights of the skies.

It’s March 1933, in the depths of the Depression. Tens of thousands of people are out of work, eating in soup kitchens and living in Hoovervilles. Harry Faulkner (monkey), a top pilot in the Lafayette Escadrille during World War I, and the owner of his own barnstorming and movie stunt-flying Jenny biplane during the ‘20s, has fallen on hard times; but he’s not so desperate that he’ll take a job as a common mechanic. He complains to his girlfriend, Betty Laverne (deer), a newspaper reporter for the Herald, and to his own mechanic, Lumpy (pig), that he wants a job that will let him fly.

Meanwhile, the mayor of New York (rabbit) is gambling on jump-starting a return to prosperity – and advancing his own political career – by sponsoring a fleet of high-profile dirigibles (which the mayor secretly owns a share of) powered by synthetic helium, that will replace the railroads in crossing America in comfort and speed. The first of them, the Navy dirigible Wakanda, is about to cast off from the Empire State Building on its posh maiden voyage to California. The flight is covered by Betty.

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Zen: Meditations of an Egotistical Duck, by Phicil – Book Review by Fred Patten

by Pup Matthias

Submitted by Fred Patten, Furry’s favorite historian and reviewer.

5193RSt5quL._SX349_BO1,204,203,200_Zen: Meditations d’Un Canard Égoiste (Zen: Meditations of an Egotistical Duck), by Phicil
Paris, Éditions Carabas, November 2015; hardcover €16,00 (80 pages).

Google’s automatic translator says that “un canard égoiste” is “a selfish duck”, but in this case “egotistical” is a better translation than “selfish”. Jean Plumo sees everything as revolving around himself, but he’s not particularly selfish once the needs and desires of others are brought to his attention.

The Patten-Nakashima conspiracy to get you to read French funny-animal bandes dessinées that aren’t likely to be published in English has probably let you down this time.

Jean Plumo, a mallard office-worker in a funny-animal world, is fed up with not only being yelled at by an unsympathetic boss, but at not getting the respect he feels that he’s due from his fellow deskmates. When he sees a copy of Bronzage (“Tanning”) magazine on his boss’ desk with an article about a luxurious vacation retreat to study zen meditation all day (implied under the sun; a good way to get a tan), he decides to sign up for it.

It’s not what he expects.

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DreamKeepers, Volume 4, Descent to the Archives, by David & Liz Lille – Book Review by Fred Patten

by Pup Matthias

Submitted by Fred Patten, Furry’s favorite historian and reviewer.

514FCHz6XFL._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_DreamKeepers, volume 4, Descent to the Archives, by David & Liz Lille
Monroe, MI, Vivid Independent Publishing, July 2015, trade paperback $24.99 (117 [+ 11] pages).

“Dreamkeepers is a supernatural fantasy adventure series for teens and up.” (publishers’ advisory)

After two years and an incredibly successful Kickstarter campaign, here is DreamKeepers, volume 4, Descent to the Archives, containing Chapters 10 through 12. By now, so much has happened that you have to first read What Has Gone Before; either page-by-page for free on the DreamKeepers website or as albums from Amazon.com.

To rephrase what I have said in my reviews of the first three volumes, “The Dreamworld is a mysterious reality that parallels our own,” inhabited by funny-animal DreamKeepers, one for each person in the world. They guard us from the nightmares that would drive us mad. “Everyone’s DreamKeeper is completely unique – your personality and subconscious influence your DreamKeeper’s appearance and abilities.” Since there are now over seven billion people in the world, that’s a lot of almost-all different funny animals; but David Lillie has shown in large crowd scenes that he can draw that many DreamKeepers. Most DreamKeepers live in “Anduruna, the largest DreamKeeper city in the DreamWorld.”

“The protagonist is Mace, a young puppy (or is he a kitten?) in Grunn’s orphanage, a Dickensian hellhole along Anduruna’s eastern seacoast. Mace, the equivalent of a ten- or eleven-year-old human boy, is always getting in trouble for his practical jokes. He doesn’t care that he makes it easy for the orphanage’s real troublemakers to blame their tricks on him. But when his best friend is brutally murdered and he is blamed, he is forced to flee with Whip, his little blue companion (don’t call him a pet) into Anduruna’s lower-class throngs. There he meets Lilith Calah, a female counterpart from the aristocracy’s elite Sabbaton Towers who has just escaped a murder attempt (with the help of her half-sister, Namah) that apparently is connected to a black magic plot (and believe me; Dave & Liz can draw really gory and frightening black magic!) by the Dark DreamKeepers to overthrow the DreamKeepers and bring the nightmare hordes into the ascendency.”

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Housepets! Will Do It For Free (Book 6), By Rick Griffin, Book Review By Fred Patten

by Pup Matthias

Submitted by Fred Patten, Furry’s favorite historian and reviewer.

HousepetsHousepets! Will Do It For Free (Book 6), by Rick Griffin.
North Charleston, SC, CreateSpace, November 2015, trade paperback $13.95 (52 pages).

Another year passes, and here is the new annual collection of the Housepets! online comic strip by Rick Griffin. Housepets! has appeared each Monday-Wednesday-Friday since June 2, 2008. It has won the Ursa Major Award for the Best Anthropomorphic Comic Strip for every year since! – for 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2014. Umpty million thousand furry fans can’t be wrong.

Book 6 contains the strips from June 19, 2013 to May 30, 2014; story arcs #70, “Mice To Meet You” to #77, “Heaven’s Not Enough, part 1”, plus the one-off gag strips before and between these.

Housepets! is the story of the dogs, cats, ferrets, rabbits, and other pets of Babylon Gardens, a typical residential suburban neighborhood – in an alternate universe. The animals are larger than in our universe (but not human-sized), can talk, are usually bipedal, and address their human owners as “Mom” and “Dad”. Their status is somewhere between pets and children. Points established over the years are that humans can bequeath their belongings to their pets, who do not need a human guardian; human storekeepers are not allowed to sell catnip to cats; human police forces have an auxiliary of Police Dogs who are not all police dogs; the pets comment sardonically on how they can go naked in public but their human “parents” can’t; and – lots of other stuff. Read the rest of this entry »

French Comic: Léonid. T. 1, Les Deux Albinos – review by Fred Patten.

by Patch O'Furr

Submitted by Fred Patten, Furry’s favorite historian and reviewer.

91pzQz5K1xLLéonid. T. 1, Les Deux Albinos, by Frédéric Brrémaud & Stefano Turconi.
Toulon, France, Soleil, August 2015, hardcover 10,95 (48 pages).

My thanks to Lex Nakashima, as usual for this French bande dessinée album.

At first glance, Léonid looks like a cute funny-animal comic book featuring cats, roughly similar to Disney’s 1970 The Aristocats. But its story, full of blood and terror, is closer to the German Felidae, either the 1989 novel by Akif Pirinçci or the furry-convention-favorite 1994 animated feature. (Both are good, but the movie simplifies the complex story.)

The locale is the farming district of Deux-Sèvres, in central-west France. “Léonid is a cat, not yet an adult, but not a kitten, either. Just a young cat. He lives in a house in the district, in the midst of trees, pretty far from any city and close to a farm.” Léonid is a young housecat, living with two other housecats (Hoa Mai, a Siamese, and Rosso, an elderly orange Pekinese) and a dog (Mirza, a toy terrier). His household is also the home of Atchi, a mouse constantly sneezing because he’s allergic to cat hairs. Léonid is allowed outside during the daytime to associate and play with the local feral cats; the female black-&-white Ba’on, and the males Bouboule (the fat one), Arsène (the nervous one), and an anonymous one (because he’s almost immediately killed).

Two newborn lambs are slaughtered at night, apparently by a wild animal. The cats inside a house are presumably safe, but the feral cats who spend nights outdoors worry that a fox may have moved into the neighborhood – or (for those who fear the less-probable predators) a wolf or an ermine. Léonid finds out that it was two bloodthirsty albino cats, but at first he can’t convince anyone else. They think that he’s exaggerating to make himself look important; then, when the two albinos kidnap Ba’on, they say that it’s every cat for himself. Meanwhile, the farmer has set Zeus and Apollon, his two killer hounds, loose to safeguard the rest of his flock, and the dogs run bloodily through the neighborhood as a savage danger to all of the cats who aren’t safe in houses.

The Two Albinos is mostly the story of how Ba’on is kidnapped by the two albinos to be their slave, and how Léonid and Atchi, the sneezing mouse, venture outside to her rescue. They’re successful, but not really because Ba’on reveals that while she was in the albino cats’ power, they boasted that they are just the vanguard of “the horde”, “the avant-garde of the terror of Great Attila, our guide” who will kill or enslave all the animals of the district.   Léonid, Ba’on, Aichi, Hoa Mai, Rossi, and Mirza are left wondering what to do when Attila and his horde arrive? Read the rest of this entry »

French Comic review by Fred Patten – Ocelot: Le Chat Qui N’en Etait Pas Un.

by Pup Matthias

Submitted by Fred Patten, Furry’s favorite historian and reviewer.

Ocelot coverOcelot: Le Chat Qui N’en Était Pas Un, by Jean David Morvan & Séverine Tréfouël [writers] and Agnès Fouquart [art].
Paris, Delcourt, August 2015, hardcover €12,50 (48 pages), Kindle free.

Thanks once again to Lex Nakashima for this fine example of the French bande dessinée.

If you think that this story is familiar, it should be. The publisher itself says in its catalogue that Ocelot: The Cat Who Was Not One is “in the fashion of Lady and the Tramp”. Amazon.fr compares it to The Aristocats. (Les Aristochats.) You are advised “To read it with an empty mind and enjoy it”. (A lire pour se vider l’esprit et passer un bon moment.) In other words, just read it for fun. Tour modern Paris, the City of Lights, with a quartet of free-living cats.

Ocelot opens with the titular ocelot looking at the Eiffel Tower, all lit up at night. He hears another cat fighting with dogs and races across the rooftops to watch. He saves her, a fluffy white cat (“Une ragdoll!!”) with brown ears and tail, more by accident than design. The cat, obviously a sophisticated lady, is more amused than grateful. “You’re rather bizarre…” “I’m UNIQUE. That’s different.” She’s Olympe. He’s “Doudou de la Gür Gandine!” (Gür Gandine’s Cutie). She laughs in his face. (More specifically, a doudou is a young child’s favorite toy or plush doll, usually well-worn.) Read the rest of this entry »

The Suspended Castle – Book Review by Fred Patten.

by Patch O'Furr

Submitted by Fred Patten, Furry’s favorite historian and reviewer.

The Suspended Castle, by Fred. [Translated by Richard Kutner.]
NYC, Candlewick Press/TOON Books, October 2015, hardcover $16.95 (53 [+ 1] pages).

7655555The Suspended Castle (Le Château Suspendu) is Book 3 in the Philémon series by Fred (Frédéric Othon Théodore Aristidès, 1931-2013), serialized in the classic French comics magazine Pilote. The weekly strip was collected into 15 books between 1972 and 1987. Fred retired leaving Philémon’s adventures uncompleted, until he wrote/drew a 16th volume to finish the series just before his death.

Book 1, Cast Away on the Letter A, was reviewed here in January, and book 2, The Wild Piano, in June. Fred’s Philémon was/is a surrealistic cartoon strip in the tradition of Winsor McCay’s Little Nemo in Slumberland and George Herriman’s Krazy Kat. Philémon is a teenage farmboy in the French countryside of the 1960s-‘70s who falls down a well and has psychedelic adventures on the literal letters ATLANTIC of the Atlantic Ocean of a parallel world. The series is only marginally anthro-animal, but it contains many imaginative fantastic animals in bizarre settings that lovers of top-quality newspaper comic-strip art, and furry fans, will want to see. Philémon, and Fred’s other works, have been hits in France for almost fifty years, almost constantly in print.

In the first two albums, teenager Philémon falls down an abandoned old well on his father’s farm in the French countryside and has fantastic adventures on the two A’s of the ATLANTIC ocean of a parallel world. He meets Mister Bartholomew (Barthélémy), an old Robinson Crusoe-like hermit from our world who was cast away onto the first A forty years ago. Philémon returns to his skeptical father Hector’s farm at the end of Cast Away on the Letter A, but he accidentally leaves Mr. Barthlomew behind. In The Wild Piano, Phil’s Uncle Felix (Félicien) turns out to be an amateur magician who knows how to return to the parallel world. (The “portal” is a different fantastic method each time.) He sends Phil back to rescue Mr. Bartholomew, which he does after more adventures on the letter N.

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