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Quacky Pig and Friends/Michael Neno’s Reactionary Tales #1
posted May 5, 2006

Creator: Michael Neno
Publishing Information: MR Neno Productions, $4/$2.95
Ordering Numbers:

It's hard to discern whether Michael Neno is at the end or the beginning of his artist development in the two books presented here. Neither one really satisfies, although both show promise. Each book has a presentational hook. Quacky Pig takes the form of a coloring book, while Reactionary Tales looks and feels like a 1960s mainstream anthology comic book. Neno not only provides several slightly odd but entirely appropriate figures to color in Quacky Pig, the cartoonist has nailed down the strange rhythms of narratives in coloring books, particularly the odd pauses between story points, and plot developments that are rescinded with the next image. It's a minor joke, well told.

The best feature in Reactionary Tales is something called "Larvae Boy," and amuses along the same lines as Ted May's extra-stupid goofs on adventure comics pacing and concepts. In contrast to May, Neno uses his art as a tool for evoking mood rather than as a satirical element in itself. A longer story, "This Eternal Flaw," unfolds with promising aimlessness but never quite coheres into much more than a string of cute scenes followed by deadly dull ones. In general, Neno's art could be more consistently tightly rendered, and he should learn to avoid dialogue that in some way repeats information we already know -- unless of course, he does it in a way that's funny. The range of projects indicates a wait-and-see talent, not in terms of chronological age but how the work continues to grow.

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.