Review: Anna & Froga: Thrills, Spills, And Gooseberries
For the third consecutive year, Drawn & Quarterly presents a beautiful, hardcover collection of comics strips and stories by French animator Anouk Ricard, featuring her small group of colorful characters.
These are, of course, the title characters Anna, a little girl in a red dress, Froga, a large frog in red rain boots, and their playmates Bubu, who looks like a fan art version of one of Richard Scarry’s dog characters, Ron, a cat who looks very little like a Scarry character, and Christopher, a huge earthworm that looks absolutely nothing like Scarry’s famous earthworrm character, Lowly.
The format switches from short comics stories to two-page series of four-panel, newspaper-style gag strips all organized around various themes.
So, for example, the book opens with “Bubu’s Vaction,” a four-page comic strip in which Bubu’s friends visit him after his supposed vacation to Egypt, only to discover (and, unknowingly demonstrate) why the easily exasperated dog needed some time away from them all.
That’s followed by “Froga’s Garden,” six comic strips about Froga’s gardening efforts.
Each type of story, regardless of format, ends with a two-page painting, sometimes a single image with a silent gag, sometimes a single image with dialogue sometimes a pair of implied panels offering a set-up and a gag.
Ricard’s characters come through in all of the various formats, and all of these formats tell and sell jokes and stories equally effectively (although I prefer the flatter, airy, brigther drawn imagery of the comics to the more textured, slightly darker and thoroughly rendered imagery, which seems to demand greater attention due to the amount of work put into creating it, and sometimes the more effortless a comic looks, the funnier its jokes can be).
I sometimes wonder why she engages in the various formats, and switches between them so often and so regularly. I suppose it could simply be a matter of trying to keep herself engaged, and to keep herself from being bored.
Whatever the case, no reader—young or old—should ever find themselves bored while reading this fun, funny stories of a group of young friends with clashing personalities engaged in day after day of playing with one another.
Filed under: Reviews
About J. Caleb Mozzocco
J. Caleb Mozzocco is a way-too-busy freelance writer who has written about comics for online and print venues for a rather long time now. He currently contributes to Comic Book Resources' Robot 6 blog and ComicsAlliance, and maintains his own daily-ish blog at EveryDayIsLikeWednesday.blogspot.com. He lives in northeast Ohio, where he works as a circulation clerk at a public library by day.
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