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Saturday, January 15, 2005

Skyscrapers of the Midwest #1 Review

Skyscrapers from http://www.adhousebooks.com/Skyscrapers of the Midwest #1
AdHouse Books $5.00
By Joshua W. Cotter

When I ordered this comic, I knew it had been well received by James Sime of
San Francisco’s Isotope, a bastion for good mini-comics. However, I didn’t know anything about the comic itself – subject matter, art style, tone. But knowing it was from AdHouse and that it had received the Sime Stamp of Approval, I had to give it a try. I’m very, very glad I did.

Cotter’s intricate inks and incredible detail make this a comic to keep flipping back through just to take in the care put into the art and the emotion contained therein. The characters are depicted as both anthropomorphic animals and robots. In fact, the cat-like characters are so anthropomorphic they could be described as animalized humans.

While there are several different short stories in the book, the five longest stories revolve around two brothers. The older seems about 10 or 11 and the younger brother is about six or seven. These are intimate and emotional stories, and I’m sure for many (including myself), familiar. The first story follows the older brother as he’s left out of a kick-ball game and imagines himself transforming into a huge robot and saving the day. Other stories show him going to camp and having a birthday. One story displays his younger brother’s imagination as he avoids getting ready for church by becoming the pilot of a bomber plane. Each story caries with it a sadness and somber feel.

The most emotional for me is “Going to Grandma’s,” which shows the loss of the two boys’ grandmother to cancer through the children’s eyes. The sweetness of their trip to grandma’s is suddenly jarred by a creature they see on their grandma’s back. She tells them not to worry but later goes to take dessert out of the oven and never comes back. The loss and dismay that is death is depicted by an empty kitchen, a mess of pie on the floor, and the boys’ and anxiety.

Obviously the emotion in the stories is difficult to describe, so I recommend picking up a copy of the book for the tales, art, and, as usual, AdHouse’s high-quality production output.

Bottom Line: A

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