Friday, May 31, 2013

Review -- REPTILE MUSEUM #2

This Review Originally Ran on Comics Bulletin

Reptile Museum #2
(Cody Pickrodt; Ray Ray Books)
4/5 stars
Last time I talked about Cody Pickrodt's Reptile Museum, I compared it to a doorway, one which swings wide to let you in to a world of potential. The first issue was all about world building, scene setting, and initial character introduction.


Issue 2 continues along this vein, adding to each part of the storytelling. Pickrodt's world expands as we are brought to the actual Reptile Museum; characters are introduced -- like Olgethorpe and Gristin Gray -- and we learn a little more about our protagonist. His name is Pants, the Prince of all Things that Creep, our Common Shaman, the Seawanderer, and they say he killed his mother. We also learn what happened to the dogs.
Did I mention that the hero of this book is named Pants?


Pickrodt is doing some interesting things with this series, certainly in terms of the story he is telling, but more importantly with how he is telling it. Pickrodt eschews the classic panel structure of traditional comic book making, and instead works on open pages without boundaries, organizing each in such a way to capitalize on the reader's supposed  natural inclination to decode left to right, top to bottom. I'm wondering, though, how this structure would work with someone unfamiliar with how to read comics. The layout relies on prior knowledge, understanding how narration works in this medium. For those of us who do understand this, though, Pickrodt's choice of panel-less pages works flawlessly, adding another level of participation and interaction between reader and creator.


Reptile Museum #2 begins with huffing induced hallucinations -- Pickrodt's art bends and waves to echo the phantasmagorical nature of this -- and it's a subtle ploy to add to his portrayal of Pants (our hero). He is an alien, even though he is of this world. His journey has set him apart.
There is a conflict brewing in this series, but still, two issues in, it seems far off. Pants has to be welcomed back into the group first. The question is, though, can he fully return after having traveled so far abroad, and, if indeed the rumor is true that he has killed his mother, can he ever actually rejoin the group? In this world, can the individual survive? Where does an outcast go? How is this all connected to the idea of snakes and gators in cages? 


Issue #2 of Reptile Museum doesn't give us enough information to answer these questions, so I'm kinda spitballing in terms of a thematic understanding of what Pickrodt is doing with this series, but he's opening up doors here, swinging them wide, inviting us in. With issue two, we remain on the threshold, looking inside. I'm ready to step through.
You can order Reptile Museum Volume 1 Issue 2 from Ray Ray Books.

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