REVIEW: BB Wolf and the 3 LPs by J. D. Arnold and Richard Koslowski

Does this blog always have to be about science?

Written by J. D. Arnold

Art by Richard Koslowski

$12.95 / 96 pages / Black & White

Top Shelf Comix

I like books with a hidden complexity. There’s a phrase used in entertainment circles called the “elevator pitch” which refers to a very short summary of a proposed project when you’ve only got the length of an elevator ride to get your story sold. Most of the time this reduces a pitch to something along the lines of “World War I but with zombies” or “Casablanca meets Caddyshack.” Well I’ve tried breaking down BB World and the 3 LPs into an elevator pitch myself, cause I like promoting the books I like to others maybe unfamiliar with comics. Even as friends these folks give me about as much time as a producer in the elevator would so I have to really hit the right buttons. I’m happy to say this book is beyond the elevator pitch. Allow me to show you my best attempt: “It’s the 3 little pigs, but set in the 1920’s South and the Big Bad Wolf isn’t the bad guy, sort of, but it’s really about something else, and there are blues.” Not the best selling strategy. So I’m opting for the long con (er, I mean “sell”) and using this platform to write a full on review of the sucker. It deserves it.

However, everything in my awkward elevator pitch is still true. This is the story of the Three Little Pigs, but not in a way you already know. It’s more Animal Farm than Walt Disney but the message behind the talking animals isn’t one of communism, its race. In this world the pigs dominate (which I guess actually is like Animal Farm) and the wolves are an oppressed minority. This leads to conflict between our titular players and it’s not so clear that Mr. Big Bad wasn’t just trying to defend him family and home, even if it put him at odds with the law that was never really on his side in the first place. This theme is woven wonderfully into the tapestry of the story, which is subtle and consistent throughout. One of my favorite examples of this is the way slang terms are modified to fit the context of the characters and world yet still resonate with the same dramatic impact as their human-based counterparts. No easy feat. The voices of the characters also ring true and the dialogue is authentically Southern which I say as a reviewer who grew up in the South and know that the author is not.

The art by Koslowski is cartooning at its finest. To those that disparage cartooning as a lesser form of drawing they need to step back and examine that opinion in light of the renderings presented here. The anthropomorphic characters are expressive, individually distinct and consistent. This is a nontrivial accomplishment and nothing to scoff at. The action scenes fly out at the reader as powerfully as the emotional scenes punch you in the gut and while those scenes were obviously penned by Arnold, its Koslowski’s imagery that gives them their true power. I’ve been a fan of Koslowski’s work for years, my first experience with his work being the also anthropomorphic tome Three Fingers, and I’m happy to say that this most recent project is my favorite work of his to date.

It’s a tale best suited for comics and fully realized within the medium in a way that may have been lost otherwise.  The story and art complement each other nicely but are sure to stay out each other’s ways in the right moments, which is impressive from a first time collaboration with a newly minted comic writer and an old pro comic artist. I interviewed J.D. Arnold over at iFanboy.com and he let slip that a sequel may be in the works, I for one am on board that morally questionable porcine-funded train. So if you’re already a comic fan, grad this genre-bending little work and if not, this is a good place to start. You’ll find characters you thought you knew presented in a compelling way that even a reader new to comics can get and enjoy in 96 tight pages. So put on some blues, grab some whiskey, and kick back with BB Wolf & the Three LPs, you’ll be glad you did.

Story: 5/5                 Art: 5/5                     Overall: 5/5

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