Here is a review of Charles Brubaker’s (aka Chuck Akira) new comic book “KoKo the Blue #1″ and the earlier ”A Witch Named Katrina #1″. Charles began doing comic book stories with his little girl witch character KoKo (originally called Katrina), in 2012. He has a professional looking style for a relatively new cartoonist, and he has a lot of imagination he’s brought to his tales. Being raised in both Japan and the USA, Charles has a Japanese and American bent to his comic narratives. That’s why when KoKo and Tofu (her cat familiar and boss) are asleep, “snooze bubbles” emerge from their noses, and iconography that such Japanese comic artists as Osamu Tezuka used in his epic Manga series “Hinotori”, the Phoenix bird, form the lexus of the main story in KoKo the Blue #1: “a Witch-Hunting We Will Go.” The Phoenix is a sacred bird in Egyptian religion–once every 500 years the Phoenix sets fire to itself, to be reborn as a new Phoenix. In Chinese mythology, the Phoenix is a symbol of longevity. Since Chinese culture informs much of Japanese culture, the Phoenix is well known there. The Egyptian legend says that only one Phoenix at a time can be on the earth. In KoKo the Blue, there are a least two Phoenix nesting in the Brimson Forest. KoKo and her brother Jodo are sent to Brimson Forest to find Dangan Bullets (also Japanese cultural stuff), which turn out to be magic bullets that poachers hunt Phoenix with. Of course the subtext here is that the poachers who drink the Phoenix blood will have a very long life, a theme Tezuka used in Hinotori.
Charles’s American side emerges in funny poses and action situations as shown here on page seven from KoKo the Blue.The multiple poses in panel 4 have a comic spirit of action as KoKo and Jodo make a crash landing in the forest. Charles is an aspiring animator, as you can sense from the multiple poses in this panel. The ending of the story has an American animated cartoon feel to it, as KoKo and Jodo rebel against their boss, Tofu the Cat, and chase him through Brimson Forest, shooting magic rays at him from KoKo’s magic wand. I also like the use of color in KoKo the Blue, the color helps complete the shapes in the characters, making them pleasing to look at.
My favorite of Charles’s “Girl Witch” stories is “The Speakeasy Potion ” from “A Witch Called Katrina” (Koko’s original name), in which she invents a potion to enable inanimate objects to speak. The potion accidentally gets spilled on the floor in KoKo’s house, and the floor comes to life! There’s something very L. Frank Baum about this premise that really appeals to me. (Mombie the Witch sprinkling Jack Pumpkinhead with the “Magical Powder of Life” in “The Land of Oz” is brought to mind).
Charles is still a young man, and works very hard on his tales of KoKo. So we have more stories to look forward to. There will be another issue out in August, so watch for it! Support an aspiring cartoonist and animator with a rich imagination. It’s tough out there for comic book independents, especially independent humorous books, to gain a foothold. Even Robert Crumb seems to have disappeared from the indy comic book scene. Order from Rekaburb, 247 Red Bud Circle, Martin Tennessee, 38237. You can see the prices on the covers reproduced at the start of this post.
Krazy is from 12-1 to 12-6-1941 this time. Mrs. Kwakk-Wakk declares Ignatz to be a “General Nuisance” in the 12-1 and Krazy’s logic makes him think that the Mice is in the military. In the 12-3 and 12-4 strips, Ignatz and Pupp take turns faking each other out with a hose outside the window gag, producing fake rain.
Myrtle, from 8-25 to 8-30-1947, has a whole week of Coo Coo clock gags. Freddy has to baby-sit the Smaltz’s Coo-Coo clock while they are away. In the 8-27, Bingo is jealous of the Coo-Coo’s door-opening ability, and goes into competition in the old fashioned hutch. Fisher’s whimsy gets a work out in the 8-30, as the Coo Coo sits on a nest and hatches three little Coo Coo’s, each with it’s own miniature clock!
Felix, from 4-2 to 4-9-1949 goes through a whole week of humiliation at the hands of Moocher Mouse. Moocher holds a mirror up to Felix’s face when he longs to see “something comic” in the 4-6, Felix gets a soda pop stopper in the face in the 4-7 and in the 4-8, Moocher swipes a Tom and Jerry gag as he “puts out the cat” with a big mallet. It’s interesting how slim Felix looks in his pajamas! Enjoy the post, readers!