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Korgi Book 1
posted October 21, 2007
Top Shelf, soft cover, 88 pages, May 2007, $10
Not only am I about 30 years older than what I'm guessing is the best audience for Christian Slade's Korgi
, I think Welsh Corgis are ugly little dogs, bred to nip at the heels of livestock and always at least a little bit in danger of giving themselves spinal damage by jumping off any piece of furniture more than two feet off the ground. This may make me heartless, but it also puts me in the useful position of not falling in love with the book right away simply because of how it constructs its fantasy setting around a juiced-up faerie-wise equivalent to that breed of dog.
In this introductory chapter to what one suspects is going to be a successful series, we follow the young girls Ivy and her Korgi Sprout as they wander around their home area and have a few adventures. The pictures are attractive, although uneven. For instance, sometimes the figures aren't as lively in some scenes than other, which can be disconcerting because Slade counts on his figures to carry our attention through the narrative. It almost feels like Sprout has stand-in. The designs are enjoyable -- I prefer many of the monsters to those dogs -- but there are several narrative shortcomings that reveal themselves in terms of staging. We're moved into positions and perspectives that don't convincingly build off of the moments just preceding them, making those individual scene changes a bit unsettling and after time, casts a lot of the book as manipulative. That's a real danger with this kind of episodic fantasy because the genre's ability to introduce elements from such a wide-ranging array of options smacks of loading the deck to begin with. Not all fantasies need to be about world-building, but if the background elements don't feel legitimate and consistently so throughout, the set pieces begin to feel like a series of sketches improvised on stage rather than something that's happening in another world.
I can't imagine that any young people -- or older people -- that want to enjoy a straight-forward adventure story about a young person and her dog will notice or care where the seams come apart a bit. Still, there's a big difference between a serviceable book and a classic, and there's no question right now in which category this book belongs.
Then again, I take it all back if the Big Bad ends up being Mark McGowan.