Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Book-A-Day 2010 # 244 (10/5) -- The Adventures of Sock Monkey by Tony Millionaire

Tony Millionaire's work was never sweeter than in the first Sock Monkey collection -- which is to say that there's only a mild flavor of sourness and bile here, since Millionaire was never particularly sweet. His early 20th century newspaper engraving style was fully-formed and mature, even in these ten-year-old stories, and those stories were the usual Millionaire mix of whimsy and cruelty. But his characters were not nearly as alcoholic as they would later become, or were elsewhere -- one notable personage here is known just as "Mr. Crow."

The Adventures of Tony Millionaire's Sock Monkey was published in 2000, collecting the first four issues (in two series) of the Sock Monkey comic. Sock Monkey saw Millionaire toning down his scabrous, gleeful nihilism of his daily Maakies strip into something milder -- though, even then, it's a mild, happier nihilism and nastiness.

The two main characters are a sock monkey and his friend, a stuffed crow (Mr. Crow), who live in neighboring Victorian houses in what's probably a ritzy neighborhood near the Brooklyn Heights waterfront. Their adventures start from the toys-come-to-life genre, at least sometimes -- a tea party with the daughter of the house features at the beginning of one story, a dollhouse and its inhabitants in another -- but inevitably turn darker, with manic shrunken heads, fiery death, violent bats, and deluded bluejays. As usual with Millionaire, there's often a death at the end of a story, but the status quo ante is reset at the beginning of each new adventure.

Millionaire's dialogue is less filled with invective and insult here than in Maakies, giving his ear for rococo and antiquated locution more scope -- the comics page also gives him more room for larger word balloons than Maakies's strip. But this is still Millionaire: it might not offend quite as many people as a random Maakies strip would, and it may superficially resemble a childrens' book, but it's still a window into Millionaire's brawling, argumentative, casually bizarre world...and thank Drinky Crow for that!

Book-A-Day 2010: The Epic Index

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