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Max Hamm Fairy Tale Detective Volume One: The Big Sheep
posted April 26, 2006
Nite Owl Comix, $4.95
With the last few pages of the "Big Sheep" storyline, artist Frank Cammuso drops the faux
storybook presentation in favor of outright comics. It's a really nice sequence, and leaves one wondering why the rest of the book wasn't done in this manner. The layout of the first two pages of comics is particularly nice: an inset is used to move the action forward without diminishing the more important relationship described in the larger picture, and then a nice two-panel piece on the right manages to balance the blacks from the previous page without throwing itself out of whack. Cammuso's compositional strengths gives the last few pages of his story a solidity that allows it to briefly crackle to life.
The children's storybook presentation that precedes the book's conclusion might make this an easier sale, but it has surprisingly little impact artistically. The joke of the book, with various fairytale characters intermingling in 1940s crime movie fashion, can't really be developed using the spare text. Thus the reader is left with the feeling that the central joke is being repeated rather than built upon. With this kind of well-traveled terrain, the story could have used every tiny bit of detail work to make itself stand out. As it is, a lot of the comparisons are delightfully only if 1) you never saw Who Framed Roger Rabbit?
or read "Pictopia," or 2) you are an incredibly dedicated fan of characters like Humpty Dumpty. Still, Cammuso obviously knows his way around the drawing board, and his art direction instincts when it comes to fonts and cover presentation are pretty spot-on. It would be interesting to see what Cammuso could do with a sharper, more uniquely told, satire.
This review was written in the late 1990s as part of a then-ongoing freelance gig; I apologize if it reads oddly or seems incomplete.