Sunday, September 16, 2012

NBIM, Day 16: Sock Monkey (1998)

Clean line work + formal, anitquated dialogue + a delusional pair of stuffed protagonists = Comic Book Gold.
There was a period of time that, as a comic book collector, I became very disenchanted by the product that was being churned out by the big two (DC and Marvel) publishers, and as result, turned to small press comics for my graphic story jones. During this time I also became much more enamored of comic book stories that didn't necessarily deal with super heroics, but rather with the common place doing heroic things. Enter: Sock Monkey.

"A Comical Adventure."
Written and drawn by Tony Millionaire, Sock Monkey follows the adventures of Uncle Gabby, the stuffed animal of the title, along with his friends, most notably the hard-drinking toy crow, suitably named simply Mr. Crow. In this first issue, together the two try to reach the "castle in the clouds" that Uncle Gabbey comes across in the library of the New York brownstone in which he somehow resides.

Though the protagonist and his world, on the surface, suggest a quaint all-ages book, things are not as they seem. As Uncle Gabby and Mr. Crow make a variety of attempts to reach the "Elysian fields" high above the room, they find themselves moving closer and closer to peril and doom. Much of their interaction with one another and the others who inhabit their world (ants freed from an ant farm, real crows who mock the artificial Mr. Crow) lead to nihilistic ends. Despite the attractive, neat black and white line work, and antiquated gentlemanly character dialogue, the darkness of the world cannot be stopped from creeping in. Even the subtitle on the cover declaring this "A Comical Adventure" is something of a misnomer--there is fun and adventure but the comedy is dry and requires deeper reading.

Wrapped in a pretense that suggests "children's book," on a deeper level, it really is more mature in its narrative. But like much good entertainment (Family Guy, and in years past The Simpsons), Sock Monkey works on both levels and would seem to have some entertainment value for even the youngest reader. One may want to assure younger readers, though, that the issue's conclusion, which implies a rather permanent end for our "heroes," is somewhat mitigated with the subsequent publication of two issue miniseries featuring the same cast of characters.

All three Sock Monkey series, as well as one-shot graphic novels, are very likely available in the deepest bowels of your community's most established local comic shop, as well as being available for purchase online in trade paperback or single issue form.

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