By Marty Mulrooney
The Book Of Grickle is a beautiful hardcover treasure trove of material collected from the various ‘Grickle’ works of Graham Annable, professional cartoonist, animator and illustrator. Mr Annable was first brought to my attention via his video game work at Telltale Games and LucasArts, yet I am proud to say that I have finally exposed myself to his more personal projects and creations as of late.
You would certainly be forgiven for initially thinking that ‘Grickle’ refers to the name of a specific character. However, it soon becomes apparent that the word actually stands for an entire concept, a vivid world exploding from within the depths of Graham Annable’s mind, sometimes in the form of his hugely successful animated short films (via YouTube) or in this case, via his wonderful hand drawn comic strips.
Certainly, all of the characters in this entirely fabricated universe have that unmistakable ‘Grickle DNA’ running through their veins: they are all drawn in a similar style, not far removed from stick men, with only small defining features and characteristics helping to define them and tell them apart. Yet the differences are always enough, with the deceptively simple art style only serving to further the already heavily abundant charm. These characters and the world they inhabit are also often much closer to our own reality than we would likely care to admit.
The tales collected in The Book Of Grickle range from the humorous, with sketches parodying such topics as consumerism or a trip to the doctors, to the more emotionally charged, covering as many different aspects of life as marriage, grumpy neighbours or even a sense of crippling loss. Mr Annable shifts from one focus to another with ease: as much as you will likely cry with laughter, you may even possibly shed a small tear of sadness too. That is surely the mark of a master storyteller, regardless of the medium said story resides within: The Book Of Grickle is delightful because it achieves so much with seemingly so very little.
At 200 pages with a sturdy hardbound exterior, The Book Of Grickle is a collection to treasure, although a keen reader will easily breeze through the various stories in about an hour. This is perhaps the book’s only weakness: it will be devoured quickly and undoubtedly leave you hungry for more. Still, the price I paid (£7.95) was more than reasonable and I was delighted to find that Dark Horse Comics has opted to use a glossy, thick paper to print on, making the black and white of Annable’s drawings practically leap off the page.
More than anything, The Book Of Grickle makes me long for Annable to tackle a full length graphic novel at some point in the future. He easily has the ability to do so, and one of the longer tales in this collection, ‘by necessity’, makes you yearn for more of the same… it is a true highlight. He really does have a knack for taking this blank canvas of a world and filling it up with enough imagination to burst even the most creative of heads.
Unfortunately, I have been unable to secure scans from The Book Of Grickle to display here, although Mr Annable was kind enough to allow me to use images from his official Grickle Flickr photostream throughout this review and our recent interview. Hopefully, these images can help you quickly realise what a talented individual Graham Annable is. He may not be to everyone’s taste, as undoubtedly there will be some who do not click with his minimalistic, almost poetic approach to cartooning. Yet overall, it would take a cold heart to not smile at this warm, smart and often hilarious collection.
9 OUT OF 10