First of all, it should be noted that this is a book about a dog by a guy who has two, which means that I’m going to be slightly annoyed during the course of this review by default. It’s not that I don’t like dogs; it’s just that I don’t like people who like dogs. Whenever they talk about their pets, they either get all googley-eyed and moronic, lapsing into unintelligible baby-talk like a toddler with a milk bottle full of White Russians, or they keep a straight face while telling you how their dog put out a house fire while helping write a master’s thesis on comparative religion.
That said, Christian Slade’s Korgi is remarkably charming for a book about an animal that looks like a well-coiffed metrosexual Daschund. Told entirely without narration or dialogue, Korgi is a fantasy about a young girl and her occasionally
fire-breathing dog. The book is a light fairy tale, clearly aimed towards kids but with enough of a darker edge that it doesn’t get lost in the balloons and pixie dust of most children’s literature. Though the book breezes a long at quite a clip without dialogue, there’s still time for Slade to develop some tension. When Ivy and her Korgi become lost in a subterranean world, they’re menaced by giant spiders and what appears to be the results of inbreeding between Shrek and Where the Wild Things Are, and that’s where the book really comes to life.
But the real heart and soul of Korgi is its beautiful artwork. Slade, a former Disney animator, has a wonderful eye for character design and movement, and the images he creates are breathtaking. Depth and shading replaced the need
for colour, and the un-inked pencil work has a sketchy quality that makes its incredible detail almost unbelievable. Even without dialogue, the narrative is clear, the acting broad but precise, and everything feels so fresh, especially in the context of comic book art. Traditional comic panel layouts, perspective, and style are completely disregarded in favor of what is essentially a beautifully illustrated children’s book without the text, though I still wish it were without the dog, too.