Dogs & Water and Moomin in the Contra Costa Times

Titles that dare to be different

Contra Costa Times    |    Randy Myers    |    May 27, 2007

"Moomin: The Complete Tove Jansson Comic Strip," written and illustrated by Jansson (Drawn & Quarterly, $19.95, 95 pages). Charm tends to be missing in comics these days. What a treat, then, to be introduced to the late Jansson's overly accommodating and wide-eyed hippo-like character. In these four captivating adventures, the Helsinki-born artist offers gentle commentary about relatives, wealth and appearances, but what truly wins us over is her endearing, huggable hippo family and friends. They waddle their way right into our hearts. Suitable for all ages and deserving of its two Eisner nominations, the Oscars for comics. Book 2 arrives in September. Can't wait. A

"Dogs & Water," written and illustrated by Anders Nilsen (Drawn & Quarterly, $19.95, 96 pages). Every page in this spare, minimalistic story creates a heavy, desolate sense of sadness. A man we know nothing about goes on a long, otherworldly pilgrimage (quite the road trip to take in graphic novels, eh?). It sends him on a path littered with death, wildlife and occasionally, another person. Nearly everything he encounters poses a real or imagined threat. Nielsen is a wickedly good master at creating mood; his stark, simple and almost childlike drawings make the spontaneous violence all the more disturbing and powerful. It's still messing with my head two weeks later. A-

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