By Avi Weinryb
January 31, 2008 - 08:25
In an alternate reality in which cartoon characters walk amongst men, film star Rickey Rat is a haggard old guy, sitting in the dark. He clutches a cigarette in one hand, and some booze in the other. Through interviews and flashbacks, a slice of film ‘history’ is pieced together, and a dark scandal is revealed and explored.
Cartoon pioneer Dizzy Walters is a Walt Disney stand-in. After making Rickey Rat his star, others desperately sought to cash in on a similar success. This created the intense pressure that led to the horrendous underground procedure known as ‘the ritual’. As this dark history is fleshed out and studied, a rotating cast of humans and toons offer their memories and opinions. It is up to the reader to decide what constitutes the truth in a forever fake Hollywood.
Koslowski’s Three Fingers is a delicious re-imagining of cartoon history. The bright and shiny past of film animation is muddied up and tarnished in this dark take on the early years of the industry. A concept this precise could only have been written by a true fan. In utilizing a variety of imagery, the author offers the illusion of a mixed media exploration of a historical event. Photographs, video interviews, and old film reels are combined to tell the story of a rat and the mayhem he inadvertently caused.
In telling a tale of intrigue and scandal, the story plateaus when it reveals the dastardly plot point that serves double duty as the title of the book. The buildup is not capitalized on, and mainly functions as a nasty shock. A subplot involving ‘the specialist’, a mysterious figure, is a welcome respite from any possible derailment, but the conclusion rings hollow.
Three Fingers builds itself up, only to dry up and blow away. Prior to petering out, the book is a lot of fun. Enjoy it while it lasts. It’s worth reading just for the creativity alone. The book is not easily forgotten.