Propaganda goes a Questing with guest reviewer Molly (aged 8)
By Jason Kruse
“In the land of Odyssia, former hero Quest unwillingly becomes the bodyguard to Prince Nestor a young smart-alec who knows the whereabouts of a mystic dagger that is the key to ultimate power. Together, they’ll face creatures, bounty hunters and other evils vying for the weapon. In the meantime, they’ll have to deal with each other.”
This one came via Joe at the FPI blog who passed it on thinking of my daughter Molly, comic fan and sometime reviewer on this blog. She’s always pleased to get comics – so if anyone reading this has something they’d want an 8 year old girl to review make sure you send it our way. Of course, getting her to read it is one thing but getting her to find time in her busy schedule to sit down and review it is another.
So in lieu of a full review, here’s some of what she had to say about World Of Quest…..
“It’s really nice and has got lots of good drawings.
But I’m not sure that it’s really a girl’s comic. It might be a bit too boyish for some girls.
I liked all the characters, particularly the boy (Prince Nestor) who was a bit like Calvin (that’s Calvin from Calvin & Hobbes).
But the Katastrophie Brothers were really weird and pretty scary.
It was fun.”
With this she went back to making a complicated school scenario featuring just 30 of her hundreds of cuddly toys (none of which combine to form a bull/lizard/eagle combo like the Katastrophie Brothers thank goodness). So I realised I’d have to soldier on and do this one myself….
And I’m rather glad I did. I like reading children’s comics for review because I always try to get back to the inner child and enjoy them properly for what they are. And World Of Quest is quite unashamedly a Saturday morning cartoon writ large on the page. In fact, it is a Saturday morning cartoon in the US. But it was a webcomic first, then this Graphic Novel and finally a cartoon. Jason Kruse is quite a success story, managing in 5 years to go from hawking samples round a comic convention to having a worldwide book deal and kids cartoon to his name. Not bad at all.
(Sometimes getting the hero to play along can be hard. Prince Nestor meets Quest. From The World Of Quest by Jason Kruse, published by Yen Press.)
The World of Quest takes place in Odyssia, where some magical weapon has gone missing and young Prince Nestor is the only one with a chance of getting it back. But Nestor is no fool and realises that an 11 year old (and small for his age) boy can’t manage this mission alone so he enlists (eventually) the greatest hero of Odyssia; Quest. But not without a lot of bickering, cajoling, house destroying and general fighting when the Katastrophe Brothers come crashing in, looking to get hold of Prince Nestor and the weapon first.
The Katastrophe Brothers are Khaos, Konfusion and Kalamity, a bull, a lizard and an eagle respectively. And they’re great comedy minions as a threesome (think Kaaa the snake in Jungle Book or the Hyaenas in the Lion King) but when wet the three Katastrophes become Katastrophe singular, a very disturbing thing indeed. When Molly showed me this as she was describing the book I just thought the artwork was so terrible that I couldn’t work out what the hell I was looking at. But on reading the book, I realise that’s just the point. The three merged into one are meant to look bizarre, grotesque and just plain unnaturally wrong. But if they give me the creeps, I can certainly see where Molly was coming from when she said they were “pretty scary”:
(The Katastrophe Brothers combined into Katastrophe – like Molly said – pretty scary stuff. From The World Of Quest by Jason Kruse, published by Yen Press.)
But like all pantomime villainous flunkies they exist only as comedy foils to their masters: The men in real charge of tracking down Nestor and Quest are General Ogun and his boss; Lord Spite. More great comedy potential here, deadpan General Ogun meets slightly camp Lord Spite. And they’re after the weapon as well. Which means we’re in for that classic of the comedy story; a goofball chase. But that comes in Volume 2. This volume is pure setup. Of course, it’s extremely funny and charming setup, with a lot of laughs all the way through.
(The World Of Quest – a funny book, for grown ups and small folks. Art by Jason Kruse.)
The only thing I can really take World Of Quest to task on is the artwork. At times it’s great. Static, reaction panels and character shots work really well and Kruse has a good eye for subtle comedy in a simple gesture. But what he finds more difficult is getting it all right in a big action sequence. Some of the fight scenes are frankly a bit of a mess, with odd shaped things everywhere (people? limbs? bodies? tails? no idea) that takes a lot of figuring out. And that’s not what you need in the middle of a fast paced funny book.
But overall, these artwork problems don’t spoil the book enough to really matter, they’re just annoying. And I’m looking forward to Book 2. Molly may not have been entirely convinced, but my inner child loved it.
Richard Bruton is a lifelong comics fan and former Comic Book Store Guy; you can read more of his thoughts on comics and life on his blog Fictions. Molly is 8 and wants you all to know that Dad still isn’t paying her for these reviews.