"Monsters! and Other Stories" Trade Paperback Review
Written by James Ferguson
Published by Dark Horse Comics
Written and Illustrated by Gustavo Duarte
2013, 156 Pages
Trade paperback released on January 15th, 2014
Words are usually a part of most comics. .You have your text and your pictures, and together they move the story along. But if you don’t have the images, you’ve got a novel. However, a comic, unlike a book, can exist without the text. It doesn't seem to happen often as it's probably incredibly difficult to do. Brazilian artist Gustavo Duarte has been excelling at this format for some time, and Dark Horse Comics has recently released a small collection of some of his work in Monsters! and Other Stories. Included in this trade paperback is Monsters! (obviously) as well as Có! and Birds.
Có! is the first story presented. It follows a simple pig farmer when his night is disrupted by a visit from an extraterrestrial. His life is literally transformed and then overrun by chickens for some reason. In Birds, two anthropomorphic birds head to work for what seems like a normal day at the office, only to find themselves face-to-face with Death itself. Finally, Monsters! features a trio of giant beasts that rise out of the ocean like Godzilla to terrorize some cities. Only an old bartender is ready to take them on to prevent further destruction.
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While these stories sound simple, they're extremely intricate. Duarte doesn't waste any space throughout each tale. His plots move along seamlessly and are never confusing. There was never a section where I didn't understand what was going on. This was surprising as often there are comics that have vast amounts of dialogue that make no friggin' sense. This is a testament to Duarte's ability as a storyteller.
Each of the stories collected here are humorous with a line of horror flowing through them. This frequently shows up very quickly, so it's jarring, but it never takes away from the easy-going tone of the plot. The comedy is dark, so if you can laugh about a man suddenly getting beheaded, then you're in for a treat.
Duarte's art style aligns perfectly with the aforementioned mood. It's absolutely gorgeous to look at too. There isn't a panel in this trade paperback that I wouldn't want framed on a wall in my home. These stories would also translate perfectly to animation, which is something I would love to see. They would make excellent shorts.
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My only complaint about the artwork is that it's presented in black, white, and some shades of blue. While the pencils are strong on their own, they would look beautiful with color. Just look at the cover of the trade.
Although all of them are good, Monsters! is my favorite of the three stories. It's easy to see why it's the title of the book. It's one man's courageous journey to save his city from a group of giant creatures. Somehow he knows exactly what needs to happen and he's the only one ready to stand up and do something about these beasts while everyone else runs in terror. That's not to say that he's a super hero or something. He's literally a scrawny old man with a giant beard.
Monsters! and Other Stories was a book that came out of nowhere for me. As there is no text, it's easy to breeze through all three tales, but you're going to want to take your time to take everything in. Pace yourself and enjoy this awesome book. It's well worth it.