Review -- Bear, Bird and Stag were Arguing in the Forest (and other stories)
Bear, Bird and Stag were Arguing in the Forest (and other stories)
So many small press comics tend toward the dour or the lonely or are suffused with a generational angst that is palpable to the point where it leaves an almost aluminum taste in your mouth. So many small press comics wallow in the pity puddle created out of missteps, mistakes, or miscommunication. So many are like this. But not all.
Madeleine Flores' Bear, Bird and Stag were Arguing in the Forest (and other stories) from Retrofit/Big Planet is kind of like the baby sloth photo of small press releases insomuch as it allows you pleasant pause from your day-to-day bringing a much needed joy break. It works those ill-used muscles in your dour face that tighten only when you smile.
Flores is a positive light here. The four stories contained in Bear, Bird and Stag were Arguing in the Forest (and other stories) are exulting, playful, deeply satisfying, and nearly perfect. Each piece demonstrates the extent of her artistic abilities, as they are stylistically rendered separate from each other, using the tone of the art to further the tone of her intention.
The title story, the longest in the collection, is whimsical and light. It is a children's story at heart, a shaggy dog story in execution, and funny as all get out. Flores' timing is perfect here, her beats are spot on, and her sense of playfulness is impeccable.
“Weave”, the second story, is more thoughtful and slower paced. Here, Flores' touch is more abstract as her story is more universal. Her line work is more indefinite, fitting the weight of its message – one of hope in the face of sorrow, and the inter-connectivity of kindness.
The third story, “My body is a vessel for my soul” offers a third stylistic choice. Here, Flores works in the palette of an Elementary School science textbook – cartoon-like in execution, yet ideal for its motif. There is something beautiful in its abstraction, and its final moment is overarchingly embracing.
Flores ends Bear, Bird and Stag were Arguing in the Forest (and other stories) with the story “Wander”, the most beautiful and artistically daring of her pieces. “Wander”, too, has a fairy-tale like quality to it. It is easily a bedtime story for young dreamers. Here, Flores uses the negative space on the page to outline and delineate, to encapsulate and depict. The use of a light gray wash perfectly represents the story's reverie. It draws you in and puts you in the headspace of the dreamer. It is stunning in its softness, perfect for its message.
Bear, Bird and Stag were Arguing in the Forest (and other stories) is a book for everyone. Within its 40 pages there is the joyful complexity of an artist whose gift is the ability to convey delight, comfort, and the possibilities of hope.
You can order Bear, Bird and Stag were Arguing in the Forest (and other stories) from Retrofit Comics here.