Saturday, July 29, 2006

Book-A-Day #11 (7/27): Billy Hazelnuts by Tony Millionaire

A short graphic novel by Millionaire, whose art style I still love but whose stories I'm not always crazy about. This time, a bunch of rats (in the requisite Victorian Millionaire house) build a little man out of suet and other garbage as a champion for their interests in the house, but he's taken in by the little girl of the house, who changes out his flies-for-eyes with less painful hazelnuts. They have a variety of odd adventures, mostly involving a super-inventor boy who loves the girl and his various clockwork robots.

It all sounds awfully surreal, but Millionaire's very detailed, early-20th century strip-cartoon style grounds the story, and it seems to make sense as it goes along. Millionaire is a little like Richard Sala that way, but I find Sala's stories read like fever dreams (or rococo, overheated versions of old pulp stories), and are familiar because of it. Millionaire's stories don't have any obvious antecedents to me, and so they come across like comics translated from some race with very different thinking processes than humans. That's not bad, exactly, but I don't connect with the stories the way I keep thinking I should.

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