Liberty Meadows: Eden (Book 1)
created, written, & illustrated by Frank Cho
Image Comics (2002)
I've always loved comic books, even if it was from far, particularly the artists. And one of the artists whose name I have heard repeatedly as one of the best in recent years is Frank Cho. So, I went out and tracked down a copy of this graphic novel that is a huge collection of Cho's Liberty Meadows comic strip.
And it kind of goes to show how unfamiliar I am with most comic books, because I had no idea this was a collection of comic strips rather than a collection of 32-page at a time comic books. That being said, Liberty Meadows was a nice change of pace from the graphic novels I've been reading over the last couple of years. I don't read comic strips like I used to when I was a kid. I couldn't afford to buy comic books when I was a kid, so I got by with reading the comic strips in my parents' newspapers and the Sunday Funnies.
Liberty Meadows, in case you've never seen it before, is set in a nature sanctuary and revolves around the day-to-day lives of some quirky, and some outright deranged, animals and the people looking after them. There's Frank the vet, a bookish, buttoned-down kind of guy, and then there's his unrequited love, Brandy the animal psychiatrist, who is way out of his league. The boy-meets-girl elements to the book are charming, and exemplify the whole nerdy guy idolizing a pinup girl, since Brandy looks like she stepped right out of a pinup calendar, though it's her empathy and intelligence that are highlighted most.
The animals are the stars, though. There's a retired circus bear who looks more like a feral koala, a hypochondriacal frog, and a lustful slacker pig. For me, however, the stars were Truman the duck and his best friend, a dachshund named ????. Truman's naivity, deferential demeanor, and childlike wonder were absolutely charming. Frankly, I wanted a pet duck after reading this book ... until I remembered what ducks were like in real life.
Sometimes, when you read and review books that are predominantly dark fiction, a light-hearted respite is needed from time to time, and this book fit the bill. A wonderful mixture of cuteness and mayhem.