Who is daddy's boy? WHO IS DADDY'S GOOD BOY??

Korgi Book One: Sprouting Wings!

This is due out on Wednesday, from Top Shelf, 88 b&w pages for $10. And if that’s not enough, a completely separate short story featuring the book’s cast of characters will be released on Saturday as part of Top Shelf’s Free Comic Book Day package, Owly: Helping Hands.

The Owly pairing is exceedingly appropriate, in that Korgi is also a (prospective) series of wordless original graphic novels that provide as of now the sort of light, inoffensive entertainment that always strikes me as being primarily geared toward the very young, although the official branding is ‘all-ages’ and obviously there’s adults that like it too. I can’t say Owly has ever appealed to me very much - what little of it I’ve read is full of perfectly competent visual storytelling with some decent moral lessons tossed in and a bunch of kinda-attractive kinda-saccharine character designs, but the most enthusiasm I’ve been able to muster is that it’d probably be safe to give a young kid. Even then, Top Shelf has put out more interesting all-ages books (Aaron Renier’s Spiral-Bound, for example).

I’m not sure if I can call Korgi more interesting, but I can say its aesthetic particulars appeal to me a bit more. Don’t get me wrong, this is still a very cute book, but writer/artist Christian Slade (an animator and illustrator making what I believe is his comics debut) utilizes a minutely scratched, occasionally woodcut-like approach that fits the natural settings of his story very well. Plenty of deep woods and slate caves and the like. He also eschews any sort of ‘lesson’ at all, preferring to focus on the real fundamentals of light fantasy storytelling, like awful things being hit, and people running vigorously from menaces.

There are also cute dogs. Many, many cute dogs, albeit all of the same breed. Korgi, you see, is set in one of those certified organic enchanted realms in which pointy-eared persons, some of them wearing equally pointy hats, cavort, frolic, and possibly traipse through sunny pastures and rustic townships built into trees, all with the help of their exciting animal friends. Except, nearly all of the exciting friends in this particular realm are Welsh Corgis, and awfully intelligent ones at that. Big ones, little ones, peeking out of windows, peering out of logs, dragging carts, toting baskets - it’s a sort of elf/dog agrarian society, the main export of which is clearly adorability. And heaven knows if you’re prone to losing breath over darling dogs (or drawings thereof), you had best prepare to hyperventilate at some point in this comic, because Slade often seems to be structuring the entire book around hitting as many key dog moments as can be packed in.

Oh, the plot involves a young girl named Ivy and a little dog named Sprout (I’m going by the press release here - remember, no words), who go wandering off the beaten path when Sprout decides to chase a fantasy realm dragonfly instead of putting his snout to the grindstone and benefiting society. This eventually results in both parties being captured by lavishly detailed storybook monsters, which they proceed to spend the remainder of the book evading. That’s about all there is to it: a big chase, with every resolution dependant on one of the characters revealing some heretofore unknown trait or skill that allows for victory. I’ll cop to being a bit more amused by the particulars than I’d expected, though - this is often a surprisingly violent, if slapsticky book, the sort of thing where a sweet little girl can wheel back and punch a monster right in the face, sending an eyeball screaming clear out of its skull. Now that’s entertainment!

And there’s basically nothing more to say about Korgi. Obviously a lot of illustrative labor has gone into it, and it can be admired from the standpoint of sheer technical aptitude. The story is as simple as simple gets (seriously, Top Shelf’s video trailer explains it all), and holds no evident depth, if you were seeking that. It’s cute, and probably won’t cause a child to erupt into screaming. It made me laugh a few times, and surprised me not at all. A preview is available on Slade’s homepage, although be warned that the last two panels give away one of the funniest bits in the book. Does make you wonder about the wisdom of building a doggy town all out of wood, though.