Tim’rous Beastie, edited by Amanda Lafrenais – review by Roz Gibson.
by Dogpatch Press Staff
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Welcome to Roz Gibson, furry artist and animator in Southern California. Roz was guest of honor at Confurence and created the Jack Salem comic character that first appeared in Rowrbrazzle in 1987. This is Roz’s furry graphic novel review part 6. Read in order as they were posted: 1) Myre 2) Angelic Book 1 3) Marney the Fox 4) Shanda the Panda 5) Cinderfrost 6) Tim’rous Beastie. See Roz’s tag for the rest. Roz is a community access guest and contents are hers.
Edited by Amanda Lafrenais
Story and art by a whole lot of people
This is an anthology put out by a name that should be very familiar to older fans—Charla Trotman. She’s moved from being an anti-furry gadfly and troll to publishing indy graphic novels using Kickstarter to fund them, under the name of C. Spike Trotman or Charlie Spike Trotman. This particular anthology is not supposed to be furry per se, but closer to Redwall, Wind in the Willows and Watership Down.
The book has 18 stories, and I’m not going to give detailed reviews of all of them, just brief comments on the art and specific comments on the ones I did read. A lot of stories fell under the blanket of “too long; didn’t read,” (People really need to take to take to heart the ‘less is more’ school of storytelling.) There was also a repeated theme of cute animals with a “surprise!” twist ending where something awful happens, or the characters discuss profound philosophical ideas.
The first two stories, A Pig Being Lowered into Hell in a Bucket and Better Nature are both philosophical discussion. The first is exactly what the title says, with very toony style art, and the second has some nice art but a ‘meh’ story, unless you’re into philosophical discussions. The third story, Burrows, has some very nice artwork of Watership Down-style rabbits. This falls under the “Surprise! Something grotesque happens to cute animals” theme. The story after it, Chosen Ones, also follows that trope, but has dialogue spoken in rhyme which was kind of neat. That was one of the handful I actually did read.
Chimera, about a colony of ants, has a very interesting art style. It’s a bit too busy, and it’s difficult to tell what’s happening in a number of the panels, but still… cool art. The story is another variant of the “Surprise!” one. The Flavor of the Sky was “Too long; didn’t read,” but seems to feature the world’s fattest mouse, and I kept thinking of An American Tail when I saw it. The Farthest Shore was also TL:DR, although it did have some neat art. What I could make out of the story, which stars some interesting critters that are either goats or deer or deer-goats, would fall under the Philosophy umbrella. It also has one of the tiny deer-goats somehow being able to push a giant catfish the size of a whale into the water by itself.
The first page of A Long Way shows a white rabbit in samurai armor with a samurai sword, but unfortunately the art does not have the clean line and appealing characters of Stan Sakai’s Usagi Yojimbo. This was definitely a TL:DR, so I have no idea what the story was about. Track, featuring a bunch of rats, looks like it was drawn with a grease pencil during an all-night binge, but at least it was easy to follow and not overly long. The Long Bridge is also TL:DR, but it has an appealing stark black-and-white style that’s reminiscent of Russian folk art.
Rainmaker was overly long as well, with an art style that skirts very close to too busy. From what I could tell from skimming the story, it’s a variant of “Surprise!” featuring frogs, toads, mice and bats. Myths of the Wild Bassets is probably the best story in here, with excellent art and a compelling SF story about a family of basset hounds struggling to survive on their own. The plot shares a lot with Angelic, including an enigmatic cat character.
The Tadpole Twins was another TL:DR, with very toony art that is reminiscent of either Spongebob Squarepants or The Amazing World of Gumball. The Feasting Star is about dogs in a lab (ala The Plague Dogs), and has a very nice art style. The story is definitely of the “Surprise!” variety. Lost and Found is a wordless story with excellent, sharp artwork. The story, such as it is, is mostly an excuse for playing around with designs and is best described as a surreal experiment.
The Silk Crown has really cute artwork and stars a really cute jumping spider. The spider reminded me a lot of that cute jumping spider that’s been in a number of animated shorts on the web (pun not intended) but I guess there’s only so many ways to draw a cute spider. The story is yet another variant of “Surprise!” A Tail of Trouble has some good cartooning and a snake that looks like a cross between Sir Hiss and Kaa. This just seems to be a fun little romp about a semi-powerful lizard witch. Pests has excellent grayscale art, although the ‘possum is a bit huge compared to the (coyotes? dogs?).
Tim’rous Beastie might be worth getting just for the sheer variety of art styles, but since the average person will find only a few of the stories interesting (bearing in mind each person will find interest in different stories) it’s probably not the best bang for your buck.
– Roz Gibson