Klaus – take 1 egg and develop a story of surreal parenting….
When I first read Klaus I knew I instantly liked the look of it – it reminds me somewhat of Jason’s work – and in more than just the cat character. But that initial reading just failed to really engage me, it felt too bitty, too episodic, and each episode didn’t really seem to have any connection with the next.
But a re-read has let me view it in a different light. My initial problem with Klaus comes from the nature of their creation – these strips were originally posted online through October 2009 and as such “represent more of a themed collection .. rather than a proper story” (as Richard said in his not to me he included with the comic).
And he’s absolutely right, this collection does contain a story of sorts, but it’s one that he’s interspersed with seemingly random strips. Seemingly being the important point – because it’s not random at all – the strips all go towards producing a rather sweet, yet slightly dark and definitely surreal tale of adoptive fatherhood, weird parenting and the pain of letting go.
The reading of it isn’t necessarily helped by Short’s fondness for the non sequitur, as the payoff panel in any strip doesn’t always have an immediately obvious connection to what has gone before. It requires a relaxed mind, a willingness to simply go with it – then it gets a lot better.
(Klaus discovers, and subsequently hatches the egg, totally ignoring it’s real parents at the window. From Klaus 1 by Richard Short)
But as the comic goes on, themes start to develop, patterns emerge, plots are revisited. Essentially it’s all about Klaus the Cat taking home an egg of uncertain origin and adopting the little chick that hatches. Between moments of surreal interjection (dream horses, nightmarish closeups of insects) we watch the pair bond and grow, until eventually Klaus decides to release the bird. But it’s fate is left hanging, almost disturbingly so.
(Klaus and friend talk chicks, from Klaus 1 by Richard Short)
Like I said right at the start I really like Short’s artwork – clean, simple lines, interesting characters. His storytelling takes some getting used to perhaps, but this one deserved and repaid subsequent readings.
Short’s work is online at his blog, but just like Klaus, it’s somewhat disorganised, and should you care to venture forth and see what I’m going on about, I suggest you start here with his posts categorised as “egg“. It’s not the whole story, but should give you a feel of what he’s about nicely enough.