Sunday, August 12, 2007

Review - De:Tales

By Fábio Moon & Gabriel Bá
Published by Dark Horse Comics, June 2006. $14.95

At the risk of turning this into the Moon/Bá blog, I recently spent some time with the brothers’ “first major American release,” a collection of short stories, memories, and tales from Brazil. It looks like the earliest of the stories is dated 2002, so De:TALES covers the twins’ work over the course of a few years, and it’s hard to know when Fábio’s work stops and Gabriel’s begins, but I think that’s how it’s supposed to work.

The collection dips into magical realism from time to time, such as when the brothers pee in a circle to invoke the spirit of a friend who has passed on, just in time for his birthday; or when one of the brothers (Fábio, maybe?) goes on an imaginary date with a girl he was too shy to actually talk to one night in a bar. But just as fulfilling are the stories about being tourists in Paris, or getting into a fashion show for free after waking up in a stranger’s bed.

De:TALES is also an examination of form and craft, particularly when Fábio and Gabriel take turns illustrating the same story with “Reflections I & II.” “Reflections I” paints Fábio as the defter hand at panel layouts and pacing, but part of the fun of looking at a Gabriel Bá comic from 2002 is knowing that by 2006, Bá was producing work like CASANOVA -- a superior study in pacing and layouts if ever there was one.

Tell me more: Fábio Moon & Gabriel Bá, De:Tales preview at Dark Horse Comics.

(The only real smudge on De:TALES is the introduction from Diana Schutz, in which she tells us she “chose to politely ignore” the writing not done by Moon and Bá in a Xeric-award winner the brothers passed on to her at CCI years before they found a home at Dark Horse. Maybe it wasn’t to Schutz’s liking -- it was, goodness forbid, an “action-adventure tale” about superheroes -- but why take time in Moon and Bá’s introduction to put down some nameless writer’s early work? There are 112 pages of enjoyable comics to follow -- revel in that instead.)

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