Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Tales of the Beanworld (Book 3.5)

by Larry Marder

I've been reading and loving Beanworld since sometime towards the end of its Eclipse Comics run in the early 90s.  When Dark Horse began republishing the early comics, followed by a volume of all-new material, I was very excited.  Now, they are giving us this slim volume, which includes all the shorter, colour Beanworld stories that Larry Marder has done, and despite my already owning 2/3 of this book, I had to get this hardcover.

Beanworld is not easily explained or understood.  The standard quote is that it's 'a most peculiar comic book experience', as Marder tells us on the cover, and that's a fair assessment.  Basically, this comic is about a group of walking, talking beans who live in a tiny little world.  Everything in their world has a purpose, and there is a sense of order about how the beans go about their day.  Sometimes that order is disrupted by outside forces, and sometimes it is inner exploration and pondering that creates the story.

This book opens with a story from some anthology comic that Rob Liefeld published back in the early Image days (and therefore, is probably the most action-oriented this comic has ever been), as a creature called the Red-Hatted Gangster Racketeer shows up, and gets beaten down by Mr. Spook (as shown on the cover).  The next story deals with the inability of the Cuties (baby beans) to communicate with one another.  The final one involves recycling in the Beanworld.

All three tales have been newly melded together with some framing sequences.  Beanworld can be deceptive - it looks like a kids' book when you first glance through it, but there is much more going on in the story, and Marder weaves in a number of complex themes and ideas.

While I enjoyed reading this stories, and especially enjoyed Marder's use of colour (the main books are black and white), all this really did was whet my appetite for more Beanworld.  I hope the wait for volume four won't be too long...

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