Thursday, October 19, 2017

Minis: L.Knetzger

Bug Boys 15, by Laura Knetzger. In having read the entire Bug Boys series, there's a real sense in which that the growth of her characters parallels her own growth as an artist. With each issue, Stag-B and Rhino-B have grown more mature and responsible in their village, even as they still retain the vigor and joy of youth. Similarly, Knetzger has grown increasingly ambitious as a storyteller, and this latest issue is the biggest challenge yet for all involved. The boys travel with their librarian friend Dome Spider to the big city, and Knetzger wisely immerses the audience right in the middle of the story as we see them in a huge crowd scene, trying to keep up with their arachnid friend. In many respects, Dome Spider is the star of the issue. She's at a place where the beetles haven't yet quite reached, in terms of balancing her love for her quiet bug village with the advantages of being in the big city. In fact, she brought the boys with her to see what the visit might inspire in them, especially the scholarly Stag-B.

Knetzger does something interesting in this issue, as she explains how many insects are fascinated by "giant" (human) culture, especially the food. A scene in a fancy restaurant reveals that they are, in fact, eating human garbage! There's also the rush and confusion of being in the big city for the first time, captured when the boys are lost, realize they have a map, and then panic because they can't make heads or tails of it! There's also a discussion of the pluses and minuses of living in different places, and why Dome Spider founded a library in tiny Bugville to begin with. It's a story about stepping outside of one's comfort zone in part to appreciate what you have. It's a story about being curious about the experiences of others in a positive way. It's a story about finding out what you really want and finding out where and how to do it. Dome Spider may be an intellectual who thirsts for interaction with her peers, but she also does her best work in peace and quiet that's also close to her actual field of study. Along the way, Knetzger delivers some of the most inventive art of her career, looking as comfortable drawing imaginative city crowd scenes as she does drawing the sprawl of the forest. It's capped off by the centipede ride at the end of the issue, as it whips around the city (and the page) at great speed, as Knetzger gives her new artistic playground one last look around. One gets the sense that the best friends will one day split up because of an interest in the city, but this issue served only as an introduction to a much wider world.

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