By Leroy Douresseaux
August 6, 2007 - 10:04
|Thanks to barnesandnoble.com for the image.|
Gon is a testy and sometimes petulant, diminutive, generic carnosaur, T-Rex-type who seems to be omnivorous (though he’s big on meat). Gon, Vol. 1 is comprised of four episodes. In “Gon Eats and Sleeps,” a colossal black bear that rules the forest finds itself subjugated to Gon. In “Gon Goes Hunting,” the brassy little guy “partners” with the king of beasts to hunt a wildebeest. Gon leaves a big carbon footprint and takes deforestation to the extreme when he out-duels a beaver to build his own lakeside mansion. In “Gon Goes Flying,” birds of a feather flock together when Gon protects his avian family from a predatory bobcat.
THE LOWDOWN: Gon is a manga without words, also known as silent comics. Like Andy Runton’s Owly series and the pantomime comics of Jason (Meow, Baby!) and Andy Hartzell (Fox Funny Bunny), Gon’s stories are told entirely without words. Manga-ka (creator) Masashi Tanaka does not use word balloons, captions, or sound effects – just his beautiful art to make comics.
It takes a skilled cartoonist, some would even say master storyteller, to pull this off, and Tanaka does. The character, plot, and setting are all established without words. With his astoundingly detailed art, Tanaka reveals the motivations of his animal cast – richly specifying the emotions of not only his star, Gon, but each and every supporting character. These stories reach out and grab the readers. Everything the readers need to know, every mood they should be aware of, and every emotional cue suggested to them is crystal clear in the sequential art. The swift action that races across the pages has no less impact because there aren’t captions to tell us how thrilling every bit of it is.
POSSIBLE AUDIENCE: Anyone who truly appreciates comics as a storytelling medium will love Gon. It’s also hard not to like Tanaka’s art, in which he builds texture by using intricate precision line work and elaborate crosshatching.
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