Thursday, July 10, 2014

Rich Koslowski's Three Fingers


Written and Illustrated by Rich Koslowski
Published by Top Shelf Comix

Once upon a time, Comixology was gracious enough to give me 5 bucks "to help ease the transition" of them denying in-app purchases on iOS devices.  So I ran right out and bought myself something pretty, something I've been meaning to read for quite awhile: Rich Koslowski's Three Fingers.

I've had Koslowski's work recommended to me on several occasions by reputable comic readers, employees of my LCS, and general comic nerd people whose tastes I trust, but it seemed like there was always something else I was itching to occupy my time with, that is until recently.  

Having never seen any of Koslowski's art, or read anything by him, not even flipping through pages in my local LCS, it was kind of a leap of faith, but one which turned out to be well worth it.  

In my opinion some, and by some I mean quite a lot of, "indy" comics are hard to get into.  That's just me being honest.  I wouldn't recommend someone, just anyone, pick up a Harvey Pekar book, or a Craig Thompson book, or a Grant Morrison book even.  You need to know who you're giving the recommendation to in a way.  So now that I've said that I realize I don't know you at all.  But if you've read past my initial rambling, I've the sneaking suspicion that you're looking for something new and enjoyable to read.  Three Fingers could be that very thing you're looking for if you're into documentary film or even "art house" cinema from the likes of Jim Jarmusch or John Waters.

So if you're not an exclusive capes & cowls reader, and the thought of autobiographical comic books don't make you want to implode into a depression ball just like some of their authors seemingly live in, I would wholeheartedly suggest you grab yourself a copy of this book.  It's 134 pages of genuine comic book genius, and for $4.99 for a digital copy, it's a no-brainer.  This book needs to be read, and for that price you're just silly for not having it on your digital bookshelf.  Go get one already, don't wait around like I did!

The premise of Three Fingers is fairly simple, it's written and drawn in a documentary style that is going to be very familiar if you're a fan of that particular film genre.  Think pastiche, not parody.  Most of the story, which skirts around a mystery of sorts, is told as characters answer unheard questions from an "off screen" interviewer.  This mystery is the origin of why most popular cartoon characters only have three fingers and a thumb.  The mystery of "the ritual," and why so many, many cartoons characters wear gloves is just plain good storytelling.  And it's completely, totally fascinating to read and have the story unfold for you in this book.  It really is engrossing, and should cause you to ease through it in one enjoyable sitting just like I did.  Me, Saturday morning, a great graphic novel like Three Fingers, and a goony cup of good coffee.  Nothing can be better.

Koslowski's art style is pitch perfect, and for this particular book at least, rides the line between what I would call "cartoony" (not a bad thing!) and a more realistic style.  It's cartoons imagined as real people, without makeup, showing all their age after a long career in Hollywood, and all their insecurities and foibles are exposed in high definition.  The images from early in the story, from Railroad Rickey (a Steamboat Willie send up), are drawn to resemble that film mixed with a little Chaplin.  And it's perfect.  And again, these characters are the ones spinning the tale for our entertainment through first-hand recollections.

Interviews from obvious caricatures of famous cartoon characters include Ricky Rat, Dizzy Walters, Portly Pig, Ned Kerney, Carhorn Armwhistle, Bugggy Bunny, Rapid Rodriguez, Jupiter The Dog, and Dapper Duck.  These characters all have weight, and could seemingly be the main character in a graphic novel of their own, it just so happens that they're not in this tale, and that somehow adds to the legitimacy of the story.

So if you liked Who Framed Roger Rabbit? (and you should, it's awesome!) and are looking for something entertaining, you can't go wrong with Rich Koslowski's Three Fingers!


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