Sock Monkey: The "Inches" Incident (Dark Horse)

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A reminder that sometimes playing with a sock monkey can be a bit more entertaining than reading about it.

24 Pages B&W; $2.99

(W/A: Tony Millionaire)

 

Admittedly, it's hard not to be a sock monkey fan. It's a monkey made out of socks, what's not to love? But a story made out of a monkey made out of socks, now there's a challenge. Unfortunately, in Tony Millionaire's latest installment of sock monkey tales, he does not manage to create a memorable, or engaging, Curious George-alike.

 

Mr. Millionaire, however, has already proven his abilities to make sock monkeys more than just antiquated toys. His original Sock Monkey series earned him two Eisner awards in 2000 and 2001. The guy has written for the New York Times and the Village Voice, involved himself in the cartooning, porn, and music of the early 90s transgression scene, and even had his work featured on Saturday Night Live and in a They Might Be Giants documentary. So, why the dead fish?

 

Cover art by Tony Millionaire. Click thumbnail for a larger image.Maybe, and unfortunately so, Millionaire seeks to coast on the gimmickry of the sock monkey. Let's face it, they are cute, and even more so when paired up with alcoholic bird companions. Even the Edward Goreyean doll "Inches" livens the storyline somewhat, but that proves to be a blip as a majority of the first issue involves a simple here-to-there plot with far too much time taken up by the captain, Oyster Joe, and the ridiculous panels featuring the sea creatures Delphinus and Kraken. Yes, they are supposed to be funny, but there's something to be said about timing, and Millionaire seems to have missed the cue.

 

Despite the understandable skepticism of Oyster Joe toward Uncle Gabby (the monkey) and his button-eyed companion Mr. Crow, readers will still find it difficult to identify with the characters. The suspension of disbelief simply isn't there. It could be there, and perhaps it would be had Millionaire bolstered his story with more dynamic artwork and striking detail. At least then, readers might've been able to forgive the unchallenging plotting.

 

Still there's something to be said for Millionaire's artwork. The pen-and-ink lining smacks of Victorian sensibilities and on the few splash pages in the comic, he's downright impressive, however those gems don't quite make up for the string of dull panels, which consist primarily of a large-nosed captain chasing a sock monkey and crow around the anatomy of a ship. Millionaire manages to create a certain tone, however, with the depiction of "Inches" at the issue's conclusion, the shading around the tiny doll's face coating the moment with a certain appealing eeriness.

 

And while this might make readers nostalgic, it certainly won't substitute the magic of the real thing. Millionaire had his moments with sock monkey stories, but this is not one of his brightest. Take in some of his older Sock Monkey work to really see him shine. I'm not saying this is litter-liner-worthy, but it certainly ranks highly on the list of browse-but-not-buy comic store options.

 

Click here for a 4-page preview of Sock Monkey: The "Inches" Incident #1

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