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Good Read Column for December 6, 1998

Wahoo Morris

Written and Illustrated by
By Craig A. Taillefer
Too Hip Gotta Go Graphics
ongoing series, $2.75

(of a possible five)


A few weeks ago, there was a lot of traffic on rac.misc and rac.alt about a comic called Wahoo Morris that I'd never heard of. I read a few of the comments, by people whose names I recognized and whose opinion I respected (though not always have agreed with), and they were not only uniformly positive, they were uniformly glowing. The next time I was in the comic store, I was lucky enough to find a few unsold copies of #2 on the shelves.

If you're lucky enough, maybe you'll find the same thing. If not, visit their website.

I knew by the third page that I'd be adding this to my pull box and trying to track down the first issue. For the most part, this second issue (and, from what I can tell by references within the comic and on the letters page, the first issue as well) is mostly a slice-of-life comic about a band with the same name as the comic, and the individuals in the band, and their quite ordinary lives. But there's something else going on here, something Taillefer feels confident enough to only hint at here in the beginning, and let the suspense build slowly.

I like that. Too many new comics feel they have to bombard the reader with everything but the kitchen sink right in the first issue, promising to explain everything as it goes along. This tactic sometimes works, but more often makes for a bewildering mess.

Taillefer is taking his time, but that is not to say the comic reads as slow-paced or boring. Plenty happens in this issue, and there are some hilarious lines. The radio interview that gives the history of the band seems natural and easy, even though it's obviously a staged way to get a lot of expository information in the reader's hands right away. The only thing slow is the setting up of what seems to be a supernatural plotline.

I have some trepidations about this. Since I missed the first issue, even when I saw Alicia performing what had to be some kind of ceremonial magic, I just thought she was some weird chick who believed in that stuff - until the end of the scene, when she walked away saying "Oh well, it wasn't going to work, anyways." And then after she was gone, the book opened and flipped pages, all by itself.

Yet those few panels in the middle and the last two pages are the only shreds of such a story we get in this issue. Usually, the kind of leisurely set-up we're being treated to here is considered too risky. And it is risky. I was drawn to the comic because of the slice-of-life down-to-earth reality of its characters and setting. The knowledge that it's all going to hinge on a supernatural plot isn't going to necessarily turn me off, because I like those kinds of comics, too, but once this side of the story takes over there might be some fans who feel cheated. On the other hand, lots of "Oh, cool! A demon!" types might not be patient enough to wait for the "real" beginning of the story, as they see it.

On the other hand, the large numbers of glowing comments on the newsgroups tells me I need not worry about Taillefer's ability to sell this comic. Everyone who reads it seems to like it very much, and I'm no exception. The art, the storytelling, the dialogue, the characters - there simply isn't a single weak component here.

This shouldn't be very surprising, since Taillefer is hardly a newcomer, having worked for Aircel in the mid-80s and having since done work in animation studios and for various Elfquest titles. That he is striking out on his own as a self-publisher at this particularly inauspicious moment in the comics industry speaks worlds about the Big Companies and the fact that, as hard as it is to be self-publishing right now, it's even harder to really be able to do what you want working for someone else, unless what you want to do happens to fit into a particular niche they want to fill.

Go to your comic store, visit the web site, whatever you do don't wait for this one to come out as a TPB. Mind you, it probably will, and you'll probably want that, too, when it comes out (especially if Taillefer follows the current sneaky ploy of putting in some additional artwork available only in the book-format (I hate it when they do that). Because if it doesn't sell, there probably won't be a trade paperback, and Taillefer will feel compelled to go work for other people again, subordinating his vision to theirs. This has the makings of a really great comic, if he's allowed the time and depth to properly develop it.

Let's all pitch in and help.

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