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Happy Trails
posted September 12, 2016
 

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Creator: Scott Roberts
Publishing Information: Self-Published (Ubutopia), softcover, 112 pages, 2016, $20.
Ordering: You Can Buy It Here

Happy Trails is a mini-comic that can be as such but with which one can also engage as a flip book -- it's small, handheld, thick and with a spine. There are three colors employed in a variety of ways for a bright, motivational poster feel. It costs a bit ahead of what you might think if you've read the story and used the flip books. It seems an undersell for the complexity involved here with the reasponable place for full-color self-published work.

It's hard not to see Happy Trails as more of a collection of effects than a unified work. The chosen subject matter, civil servants chirpily planning on trails of jet exhaust mixed with chemicals having a mass effect on both citizens and environment, is both scary and absurd in its banality. This allows Roberts to dance into the reader's initial perceptions with this very specific, almost lurid visual approach, letting the reader luxuriate in his figure drawing, the developing patterns and the way he occasionally disrupts them. The point I took away is that the dire things we suspect are fears both ridiculous and well-earned; it's that kind of world now.

Don't get me wrong, however. This is a visually playful work, and I think most of the joy readers will take is that cascade of lovely image, this break between a potential poisoning and more salutary effects within the work. The end of the world for this cartoonist and this work is a pastel armageddon, lurid yet somehow still lighter than air.