February 1, 2009

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Robot Dreams

Written by Sara Varon
Illustrated by Sara Varon
First Second Books

I rarely feel the need to quote a back-of-the-book blurb, but this time, I feel it's the best way to capture my thoughts on this one. Tom Devlin says, "With Robot Dreams, Sara Varon has managed to make a comic that is not only cute and fun but heartbreaking as well." This is completely true. The artwork, as you can tell from the cover, is not unlike what you might find in a children's book. There's a happy robot and his dog, with everything from raccoons to snowmen gracing the back of the wraparound. Aww, teh cute.

Inside, however, is a very different picture. The dog builds the robot to have a friend, who he then abandons when the robot rusts and is stuck at the beach. As the robot dreams of rescue, the dog lives out the year meeting a variety of friends who come in and out of his life the way that dreams come in and out of our consciousness. Each friend comes with its own problems; each dream is broken by the harsh reality of the robot's failed life.

In the end, both dog and Robot do what they need to do to survive. When they meet again, you wonder just how the two will react. Will there be a heartfelt reunion? Bitter words (relatively speaking, as this is a wordless work)? The answer may just surprise you, or it may leave you feeling like it's just a bit too pat. I rather enjoyed it, personally, though perhaps that's because I was riding good thoughts from a concert that night.

This is one of those good indie books that I've been trying to read more of, and I definitely would recommend it to others, particularly those who like James Kochalka's work.