Tuesday, January 08, 2019

Book-A-Day 2018 #373: Tales of the Beanworld by Larry Marder

OK, since I looked at the first Beanworld omnibus a couple of weeks ago, I've done a little Bean research. That big book collected the first two smaller Beanworld collections, and there are two more books out since then, continuing to collect the main series.

All good news for me! But my recent trip to a comics shop did not turn up either of those books.

What it did turn up is the lone full-color Beanworld book, which took some random pieces from other publications and wrapped them into a frame story. Larry Marder calls it "Beanworld Vol. 3.5" -- all of the pieces are in-continuity, real stories of his characters in their world, but they're not part of the main sequence.

That sounded good enough to be the next thing to read, so I grabbed Tales of the the Beanworld from the shelf.

This is much shorter than the other Beanworld books -- only 64 pages, with everything else running close to 200 for the regular books and double that for the Omnibus. It collects "While We Wuz Eatin'" from the mid-90s Asylum anthology from Maximum Press -- which I expect most Beanworld readers would not also own -- plus two short stories from the online MySpace Dark Horse Presents and one from a Beanworld Holiday Special.

Normally, that would make the usual odds and sods collections -- the pieces that didn't get integrated into the main storyline -- but Marder instead reorganized them, set them into a single framing story, and entirely re-did the color from those Asylum pieces (which apparently were in very Image-style '90s hues originally). So Tales is a story of its own: an episodic one, true, but Beanworld is episodic anyway.

The Asylum story is another one where something strange visits the Beanworld from the wider corners of this universe -- Marder calls it a Red-Hatted Gangster Racketeer in his afterword, but it's unnamed in the story itself. It makes threats, but is driven off by Mr. Spook and the rest, leaving some pieces behind. Tales, as it turns out, is all about pieces left behind -- the rest of the stories are about toys that the "Cuties" (juvenile Beans) have outgrown, and what to do with them.

Marder's Beans, in these stories at least, come down on the side of saving everything, since it will be useful later. That's not necessarily the best advice in the real world, but I'll take it -- I tend to that direction myself.

Tales is not the place to start with the Beanworld. And it might be better read after volume 3, which I haven't done myself. But I think as long as you've to the point where the Cuties are introduced, it'll be just fine. And Beanworld is unique and special: you should check it out, eventually.

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