Friday, 1 May 2015

THE CLIFF Book 4 REVIEW #4 - Dress, Talk, Kill and Eat Ice Cream - by Chris Parsons

Review #4 of my upcoming graphic novel which will debut at the Toronto Comic Arts Festival - TCAF - next weekend, Sat. May 9-Sun. May 10/15.  If you are in town, please drop by to see the general hubbub and visit the Editions TRIP table...

Chris Parsons has written an amazing review, and I am very grateful for his carefully considered insights!

THE CLIFF Book 4 REVIEW #4 - Dress, Talk, Kill and Eat Ice Cream - by Chris Parsons

The Cliff is one of the most original and fresh stories I've come across in a while. This goes for both the writing and the drawing. Matthew Brown is a masterful world builder. Set in a future Earth with only a few minor adjustments to the reality we know now (read: cute-looking animals who dress, talk, kill and eat cream, for starts) Brown rids the mundane with the inane. And it’s a fun ride.

In “Book 4: Heart of Brightness” we see the follow-up to Poopsie the Penguin’s murder investigation which had led him and Mutt Blue to Varanasi at the end of Book 3. And – without giving anything away – we are treated to a bit more backstory of Mutt, more Blue family history and everyone’s connection with Nexus Island. While still keeping the level of casual fantasy of its predecessors, this book assumes a more film noir quality (times by ten for uniqueness because such plays out in India!) as elements of the murder mystery are interwoven with the overarching story of The Cliff.

The characters are hard to talk about without going into essay territory. They are just so full of the ravages that are the human condition, especially the animals. I think Poopsie the Penguin is my new favourite detective. His dry cynicisms are panel stealers. But, true to Brown’s delicate treatment of bigger story at hand, the reader is always aware that there is more to who he is and what truth he actually knows. This, of course, can be said about all the other characters, although I wanted to focus on Poopsie because, well, he’s awesome.

The drawings are raw and bold; the writing, witty and natural. Yet particularly for Book 4, it is the panels with no dialogue that stand as testaments of the artist’s ability to entirely cloak the reader in the vibrant universe of this tale. Having been to India myself, I was impressed with how well he had captured the landscape and its impact. The full page panels of Mutt walking down to the Ganges sum this up gorgeously.

Even more, what I loved about this book (as well as Books 1-3) is how Brown seamlessly blends the future world of our own with the inclusion of anthropomorphic animals. I want to say it has a psychedelic vibe but that would imply a lack of control and that is far from it. Everything is carefully constructed despite how conflicting to comprehension they may seem. Just as this odyssey must be for Mutt, it is for us to simply just experience it.

Each time I've read (and re-read) this series, I've finished with a jolt that my time in the universe of The Cliff was too brief. “Heart of Brightness” was no different. I eagerly awaited the release of this and now find myself in the exact same position for Book 5: The King

Chris Parsons (04/29/15)

GoodReads Bookshelves: 5 Stars, Graphic Novels

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