Sunday, April 04, 2010

Book-A-Day 2010 # 60 (4/4) -- A Home for Mr. Easter by Brooke A. Allen

When this book showed up on my doorstep just over a week ago, I knew that it had to be today's Book-A-Day. And now it is.

This is Brooke Allen's very first full-length comics work; she's actually still a student in the comic art program at the Savannah College of Art and Design. For all I know, she may have several dozen stories scattered across anthologies, but I don't think so; I think this is her big debut, and finishing a two-hundred-page solo graphic novel is a huge accomplishment for anyone, let alone a full-time student.

More important than the bare fact that it exists, though, is that A Home for Mr. Easter is a rambunctious romp, goofy fun from a new talent who's good at honest-to-God cartooning, who clearly loves distorted body shapes, thumpingly physical action, and characters whose dialogue is just as odd as their looks. (And their looks are pretty dark odd.)

Tesana is a rather large teenage girl in some dumpy city somewhere: she clearly has had a lot of practice in keeping her temper, and keeping herself to herself, in the face of hostility from her schoolmates. (Not to mention her mother...which I'll try not to do.) Tesana has the sweetness of a big tough loner -- more buried than on her sleeve, but it's there.

But then, while trying to help out with decorations for a school pep rally, she discovers that a little white rabbit (with an "8" on his backside) can lay colored eggs. She decides, in that unshakable way large (and assumed to be slightly dim) characters do in stories like this, that she will return the bunny, which she has named Mr. Easter, to his home.

Of course that's not nearly as easy as it sounds, and soon Tesana is running at high speed into the woods, pursued by a very motley and bizarre array of rabbit-hunters, from an evil pet-shop owner to his nerdy scientist brother, from a creepy magician to a pack of animal-rights activists. Luckily, Mr. Easter can talk -- and his eggs have their own powers, as well. Even better, Tesana is a human bulldozer, and she's not going to stop until she does what she says she will.

A Home for Mr. Easter is somewhat rough in spots, and its plot is mostly of the one-damn-thing-after-another school. But it has an undeniable electricity, from Allen's energetic and appealing lines to her slangy, funny dialogue to that deeply weird plot that nevertheless comes across as utterly believable. It's the story of one girl and her rabbit, and the vast hordes that try to stop them. It's quick and funny and exciting and just plain good comics. I can't wait to see what she does for Christmas!

Book-A-Day 2010: The Epic Index
Listening to: Dragonette - Jesus Doesn't Love Me
via FoxyTunes

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