Pubo #1, November 2002, Dark Horse Comics
by Leland Purvis
When I came home from work today, I discovered my girlfriend standing on our kitchen countertop, which wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing except that she was ridding the cabinets of an unexpected infestation of bugs. Yes, we were ambushed, and me with my Son of Ambush Bug #1 forgotten at work. How perfect that would’ve been! Well, I guess they can’t all be 1111, right?
So, we get Pubo instead. Pubo – Physically Unipolar Biogenic Organism – is “some kind of experiment” with resized “body-parts to reflect the sensitivity of his nerve ends,” a description kindly offered on the first page of this issue. Interestingly, the rest of the story is less about who Pubo is and more about where he belongs, as he escapes a mid-air transit and lands in a forest of talking animals, where another peculiar societal reject eludes that Pubo belongs in the woods, but fails to explain why. The characters’ snappy dialogue is introspective and clever – for example:
ONE-STONE: My! What an amazing little creature you are!
PUBO: You’re not exactly a photo-op . . .
ONE-STONE: What are you looking for?
PUBO: What have you got? All is need is a meal and a place to hide.
ONE-STONE: Is the world big enough, I wonder?
PUBO: To hide in? Well, I’ve proven it’s big enough to get lost in, haven’t I?
ONE-STONE: But a man can be lost even if he knows where he is. If you run from who you are, there is no place you won’t be found.
Pretty deep for a comic about a little deformed dude. Speaking of which, Pubo is very beautifully drawn, if I do say so myself, but the animals really steal the show. With just the right balance of realism and abstractness, the fact that these creatures talk isn’t too far-fetched considering the peculiarity of the issue altogether. After all, since the premise of Pubo is an awareness of over-sensitivity, albeit physically or biologically, one can only presume that the author would use such an opportunity to exploit the vulnerability of the world at large, as well. Visually and thematically, Pubo is primo. I was pleased with the read . . .
. . . of course, more please than I was to discover the little animals living in my kitchen. I wish they could speak, so they could tell me how delicious the food I didn’t get to eat was. Amazingly, comics, like most effective art, have the uncanny ability of striking their readers where they live, in this case, quite literally. Purvis tackles a high-end concept in Pubo, with funneled through low risk themes that a wide audience can understand. I guess you don’t need big hands to be sensitive to the world around you, but it helps.