Monday, November 05, 2018

Book-A-Day 2018 #309: The Adventures of Venus by Gilbert Hernandez

Gilbert Hernandez is a cartoonist of extremes. Just looking at his work related to the Palomar/Luba set of stories, he ranges all the way from the joyous porn of Birdland to the (equally joyous, in very different ways) kid-friendly stories from the turn of the century about Venus.

Venus also appeared in stories that aren't kid-friendly, which could make sharing a book like Luba and Her Family (which has the bulk of those Venus stories) with an eight-year-old somewhat problematic. But, luckily, there is a just-the-kid-stuff Venus collection: The Adventures of Venus.

As far as I can tell, this small book -- it has half-size comics pages, and less than a hundred of them -- entirely consists of stories also in Luba and Her Family, so most people will not want to buy both of them. (Some people, naming no names, might have bought both of them thinking they were different things.)

The long, weird story about the "blooter baby" was original to this book, which otherwise collected all-ages material by Hernandez from the late-90s comic Measles. (It was a multi-author anthology, so he had just one Venus story each issue.)

Venus is fun and spunky, but these are mostly the lesser stories about her -- concerned with normal kid-activities like soccer and with her social interactions. The other Venus stories, the ones not specifically aimed at kids, give her more depth and make her more interesting, though they probably are unsuitable for this age range -- she's exposed to knowledge of a whole lot of the illicit sexual pairings going on in Hernandez's work in that era. (Including her own mother.)

So this is a perfectly nice book for a young audience. The only place it leads, though, is somewhere its target audience can't follow, which could be a problem for a household that combines inquisitive young readers and copies of those other Hernandez books. And anyone older than that should just get Luba and Her Family, which has all of these stories and a lot more.

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