In 2008, Ananth Hirsh and Yuko Ota launched the auto-bio webcomic Johnny Wander. Eight years, four cats, and three moves are chronicled in this gorgeous hardcover omnibus, which includes a foreword by Raina Telgemeier (Smile, Ghosts). Hirsh and Ota's charming reverie about new adulthood will appeal to fans of Kate Beaton, Bryan Lee O'Malley, and Jeffrey Brown along with anyone who's just winging it."
Rating: 2 Stars
I received a free copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
I saw this as part of an advert on my phone and as it was so small, I did not see that it was going to be the hardcover edition of an established webcomic. To be honest, I thought it was a comic about cats who were, indeed, more famous than their humans. I thought that premise sounded hilarious. When I read the introduction by Raina Telgemeier and the first few dozen pages, I realized I was wrong and had to adjust my mindset to this work.
The book is separated into four sections, each drawn in a different ink. The first was pink and that put me off a bit. It was hard on my eyes, so I wasn't able to read it quite as quickly as I would have liked. The ink color changed to green in the second part which was slightly better than the pink of the first. It reminded me of the color of old computers.
I thought that the third part would be better when it started with a traditionally colored page; it then cut to a couple pages of black and white, which would have been acceptable because it would at least have been ordinary, but the majority of the remaining pages were orange. That felt like such an odd choice, just as much as the pink. It was another eye ache, sadly, and made this part as much of a struggle as the first. Part four, more of the same, only this time in something of an electric blue.
The bouncing around of colors really did make sense to me. I couldn't see that it corresponded to the story in any way and even if it did, why go with colors that were more than likely to cause undue strain on the reader's eyes?
Now, to the story. I like slice of life comics as much as the next person, so that format doesn't bother me when it is done well. The key word here is "well". There didn't seem to be very many, if any at all, cohesive factors keeping this story together through the different parts. The characters weren't particularly special, which I'm sad to say because i know this comic is meant to be at least semi-autobiographical. There was nothing to make them people that I could care about or get interested in. Even going by the title and assuming that the cats would be a major factor (which you'd think given the title claims they're more famous than the humans), I barely saw any feline activity until the book was nearly done. What a disappointment.
The art was nice enough and I might be tempted to read another book illustrated by the same artist, but as poorly as I connected with the writer in this instance, I don't think I will be giving them another chance any time soon.
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