Friday, December 17, 2010
Songs of the Monastery Book One
(Click on the images to make them look bigger, they look way better larger.)
This comic features a number of short stories featuring monks who live in an isolated monastery next to Ogreland. The comics are kind of strange, and cover everything from interpretations of The Tyger by William Blake (handily reprinted in the back), to crows who debate Gnostic evangelism (and other religions), to monks playing with snakes and kissing.
This last comic is about an old leader monk telling other monks what they can no longer do. I found the list of eleven things really amusing, as it puts the monks in a human light, while also being kind of ridiculous (monks are no longer allowed to make delicious cakes, presumably cakes that just taste okay are still allowed).
The longest story is a fable of sorts (or a parable? Something like that), and features a monk and a yak (I love how Celso draws yaks) going out to beg for food from people in the surrounding area. The monk must avoid temptation from demons and animals, and stay pure. It shows some of the monk's customs (which I’m assuming are based on some religion, they remind me of some of the monks I saw while living in South East Asia), and has some really good art of demons and monsters.
Speaking of monsters, there’s also an awesome included minizine that features lots of neat drawings of monsters! Yay!
I really like Celso’s art style, which uses lots and lots of lines to create shadow and texture. I also enjoy the way he uses tiny panels, featuring only a head or an eye, in combination with large speech balloons that are outside of the panel borders themselves. It’s a technique I don’t really recall seeing very often, but it works well here.
Some of the philosophy references in the book can be a bit confusing, and Celso even apologises in the back for the comic being “highly enigmatic reading material”. But he does include some explanations in the back, and if you get past the first few stories (by far the least accessible) you’ll find some awesome artwork, and some pretty amusing and thought provoking stories.
One of my only complaints is the formatting. Each page is longer than it is tall, but the pages turn from the top (ie. you turn the book on its side), which is a little awkward. I know it’s just a problem with having access to certain paper sizes and everything, but I think the book would have benefitted from being printed in a slightly different format. Don't let that stop you from picking up this comic though, it's well worth it.