Saturday, November 5, 2011

Dear Creature

This debut graphic novel is a fresh take on many ideas. It begins with Grue, a Creature from the Black Lagoon-type gill-man who feasts on the flesh of beach going lovers and late night swimmers. Accompanied by a trio of scavenger crabs who constantly kibitz over his shoulder, he leads a pretty simple life of eating and avoiding notice and capture. This routine all changes when he happens to find soda bottles in the ocean that contain the plays of Shakespeare. Reading the plays changes his life. He develops a wide vocabulary. He speaks in iambic pentameter. And he is ignited with emotions that make him want to explore the surface world and find the (he assumes) beautiful person who sent these bottles on their way. What he finds on the surface world is not quite expected, and of course, his appearance and past create complications.

This quirky and lyrical tale is marked with humor, from the cheerful depiction of Grue to the side comments from the crabs. It is also full of strong, evocative art that communicates actions, expressions, and the story in very clear, crisp fashion. Its characters are vivid and relatable, and its plot is a roller coaster ride of emotions. Dear Creature is an impressive work, let alone a fantastic debut.

Writer/artist Jonathan Case is a member of the Periscope Studio, based in Portland, Oregon. His work appears in the Comic Book Tattoo anthology, and he also illustrated the true detective story written by Jeff Jensen, Green River Killer. Case speaks more about his work on Dear Creature in this audio interview.

Reviews for this graphic novel have been very positive. Comics Alliance gushed that it was "pretty much perfect. A witty and sweet mashup of old monster comics and ill-fated love stories." The review at Publishers Weekly commented on the mix of humor and pathos, calling this book "startlingly assured for a debut effort." Chris called the book "excellent" and wrote that Case created a rare work "that is at once literary and meta-textual, while remaining touching and hilarious."

A sizable preview and video trailer are available from the book's publisher Tor.

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