The Abominable Charles Christopher HC by Karl Kerschl
I found this in a round-about way, and I’m glad I did. Karl Kerschl is the co-writer and artist of a fantastic Flash story from last year’s incredible Wednesday Comics experiment. I loved it so much, I tried to find out more about him.
Turns out that he’s the writer/artist of a weekly web comic that just put out a hardcover collecting the first 2 years of the strip. Since most web-comics look like they were drawn by an armless 6-year old , the beautiful art caught my eye immediately. It only only took reading 10 strips or so before I ordered it from TX Comics (the only way you can get one), and although it was pricey, it was worth every penny.
Charles Christopher is a mute Sasquatch who is very strong, lives in a forest with talking animals, and uses a soother. He’s on an epic quest of sorts, though we still don’t really know what it’s about. We alternate between the story of his quest, and that of the day-to-day trials and tribulations of the denizens of the forest he lives in. It’s mostly a humour strip, but with hints of questing epics such as Narnia or LOTR. If I had to pitch it all high-concepty (and I would pay a gazillion dollars in Wakandan currency to watch one hour of this on TV), I’d say it was a cross between Bone and Bloom County.
One of the things I like most, is one of the things I liked least. This doesn’t have the intricate plot-lines that we’ve come to expect from things like Bone or LOTR, and while this allows the strip to keep a very fresh and spontaneous feel (Kerschl apparently doesn’t plan that far ahead with his plots, and only works on this one day a week), it also occasionally has a “hurry-up-and-wait” feel about it. There are occasional mentions of a larger purpose for Charles and his friends, but just as soon as they show up, they are dashed in favour of little bon-mots about an alcoholic bird, which are usually quite funny. As far as complaints go, it’s very minor, and might say more about my personal tastes than it does about Kerschl’s talent.
The art is stunning. Absolutely beautiful, and one of the main reasons I had to have this in print form. Reaction shots is what Kerschl specializes in (as well as his gorgeous backgrounds), and often a character’s reaction to a particular plot point has more impact than the plot point itself. His animals definitely have a slight exaggerated anthropomorphic feel about them, but there’s a naturalistic realism in there as well.
To sum up, this is a unique and engaging work by one of comic’s serious up and comers. Although it might be a little “cutesy” for bitter and unhappy souls, I’ll recommend it to those looking for a unique fantasy experience.
P.S. Although this doesn’t have anything to do with the quality of the book itself, I would strongly encourage the fine folks at TX comics to seriously look at alternate shipping methods. I paid $18 to ship this book from Montreal to my home in Vancouver. $18. You could buy a pair of shoes for $18. Not a good pair, and you’d have to buy them at Wal-Mart, but still. I understand the difficulties of self-publishing in Canada, but if you want to move units, you need to figure out a better way to get this to your customers.