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After the breakneck drama of Drawn & Quarterly's second Gasoline Alley collection—which saw the orphan Skeezix kidnapped by the mysterious Mme. Octave, and his adoptive father Walt engaging in a cross-country race—Walt & Skeezix: 1925 & 1926 slows back down to the rhythm of day-to-day life, playing to the real strengths of creator Frank King. The strip's biggest development in the mid-'20s involved Walt's long-delayed engagement to Phyllis Blossom, and the wedding that followed. Once Walt finally musters the courage to propose, Gasoline Alley becomes about the many sweet, awkward ways a confirmed bachelor tries to express affection. (Walt: "Phyllis, I like you awfully well." Phyllis: "I'm glad Walt, because I've heard you say as much for french-fried potatoes.") King also begins to experiment more with his art, working with silhouettes, shadows, and close-ups as his characters gradually begin to outgrow the dusty alley garages that used to be the strip's reason for being. Also available now, for the more hardcore fan: Sunday Press' Sundays With Walt And Skeezix, which collects nearly 200 Gasoline Alley Sunday strips at full 16"-by-21" newspaper-page size. As with the D&Q series, Chris Ware's design of the Sundays package presents King's work sensitively and stylishly. But the work itself is the real attraction, especially on the many Sundays when King would have Walt and Skeezix take a walk or a drive through a colorful, magical everyday world. It's hard to call any $100 book a must-own, but it's sure hard to imagine a happy life without Sundays With Walt And Skeezix… Both: A
Drawn & Quarterly resumes another of its welcome archival projects with Moomin: The Complete Tove Jansson Comic Strip, Volume Two. Jansson's near-stream-of-consciousness adventures involving various single-minded woodland creatures is pitched to a narrower sensibility—those with a yen for the outrageously fanciful, basically—but the precisely designed, kid-friendly art is marvelous, and the extended storylines have a steady rhythm that becomes pleasantly lulling the more they're read. This book is perfect for perusing right before bedtime, to ensure unusual dreams… B+
MOOMIN 2, WALT AND SKEEZIX reviewed by The Onion A.V.
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