Mora #4, October 2005, Image Comics
by Paul Harmon
Nearly six months later, the A Comic A Day project’s greatest nemesis hasn’t been variability in comics, or the availability of variability in comics, so much as it has been plain old fatigue – case in point, last night’s brief review of Pigtale, a comic that deserves more than a single line worth of commentary, the shortest entry in this blog’s almost-half-a-year history. Fortunately, to the credit of the medium’s artistic integrity, whenever I’ve offered a regrettably feeble review, the next day’s read allows for some compensation to make up for the phoned in effort . . . some window to revisit the material, either in the context of a contrast or a comparison. A flip test may impress that Mora #4 and Pigtale #4 are vastly different literary experiences, but for my selfish reasons, I find a connection. See . . . the good guy always bests the nemesis.
First of all, and most notably, Pigtale and Mora both star talking animals. Pigtale’s take of bestial personification is rooted in science and reinforced by dry wit; Mira’s talking animals are seeped in pure magic. Further, Pigtale is more pedestrian, while Mira seems quite ethereal. I should confess that I purchased Pigtale #1 when it first hit the shelves, and although I was attracted to Ovi Nedelcu’s story and art, I didn’t pursue the rest of the miniseries until I happened across this final issue in a quarter bin. So, I vaguely remember how the story began, and now that I am aware of its conclusion, I assume this pig really is the other white meat, as this action-packed installment is all climax with little real story. I couldn’t really place the circumstances, then again, I haven’t revisited Pigtale #1 since its original release. Mora, on the other hand, is pure narrative, with a grandiose verbiage that implies universal consequences, as if the very sanctity of the world is a stake through the paranormal clash of these purely earthly creatures (sans the Medusa wanna-be in the page sampled above). The issue wasn’t as easy to follow, especially since I didn’t have a previous impression to rely on, but still just as compelling. Talking animals have that effect on people, I suppose.
Secondly, both of these Image books were created by a singular artist, a virtual no-name (at least by my pedestrian standards) that receive cover credit and that implement a black and white format differently, and masterfully. Pigtale strikes me as pure Micron pen, with computerized gray scales, each panel effectively expressing the characters’ actions and emotions, and page pulling the eye from one panel to the next with a sense of suspense and anticipation. Featuring a rhinoceros henchmen and a Hulk-like pig transformation, Nedelcu illustrates his bestial characters with limbs that could crack a tree in half; the sheer girth of these characters’ proportions express their power with little exhibition necessary, although we get plenty of that, too. Mora’s heavy inks imply the use of the ink and brush, and its characters appear nimble and agile, a fluidity that speaks to the magical and natural elements in this tale. The bat creatures at the beginning of this issue come to mind, as well as the images in the page below– sleek, shadowy, and intriguingly demanding to the eye. The inclusion of a small sketchbook section in the back of both of these issues is appropriate, and as a new reader to both creators, more so than these specific titles, I’m curious to see more from them.
On more than one occasion, this forum has explored the nature of animal personification (pardon the pun), and these two issue contrast the effective use of this device – animal characters that talk, to put it simply, are either easy to understand, or beyond the scope of our comprehension. Pigtale is the former, Mora is the latter, by design, I reckon. I may sympathize with these characters, but I must say, I’m not going vegetarian overnight. Honestly, at best, I’ll try harder to understand the animal world, thanks to more than a few channels dedicated to that cause on my DirecTV. Heck, I’ll find the time. A Comic A Day has proven, I have so much of it to offer.
That’s the fatigue talking.