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Mister I
posted January 8, 2007
 

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Creator: Lewis Trondheim
Publishing Information: NBM, hardcover, 32 pages, January 2007, $13.95
Ordering Numbers: 1561634867 (ISBN)

Lewis Trondheim's sequel to the popular Mister O brings with it another suite of one-page silent comics comedies. Work like this is pretty much review-proof to my mind, especially if you're the kind of reviewer that doesn't make a judgment about unit price when putting pen to paper. A fully colored album-size project that runs to only 32 pages, Mister I follows its title-named protagonist as he negotiates some sort of circumstance placed before him, He is generally motivated by some sort of greed or covetousness, and in the end he dies.

What makes this worth watching time after time is Trondheim's detail work, the way the plot progresses in a sort of perfectly measured way that becomes more fun to follow through any twists and turns the more you get used to it. I can't describe how highly tuned in a sense all of this becomes except to mention that when you're fully engaged with the work you follow it so closely that it's not a death that lets you know it's concluded but the spreading of blood, and that this is an important distinction given the cartoonist's crackerjack sense of timing and build. The concept helps, too -- for instance the characters are roughly drawn (Mister I himself looks sort of a like sheathed cartoon penis) that you can't skip ahead and ascertain immediately what's going on; you need the changes from panel to panel to tell that. What you end up with is a bunch of smart and funny, gruesome as all hell children's books, put up into poster form, and then shrunk down into a hardcover. Either that will sound good to you, or you clicked away when you saw 13.95.