Comics are an experience. Beyond just the passive interactivity of reading, the way we perceive a book is changed in often subtle ways by lettering, style, and packaging. Iconic art (that is, art that less realistic and as such easier to identify with, to oversimplify) is often more indicative of work aimed at younger readers, which is silly because being able to identify with something is in no way a kids-only thing. It’s the same with packaging; if your book is being presented in a way that is more fun, it’s often for kids. Pranas T. Naujokaitis (prahn-us no-you-kite-us) has created a name for himself by ignoring that completely, creating work that is a nice mixture of family friend and grown-ups only, and packaging his books in ways that are both excited and unique.
One of the things that blows me away about almost everything Pranas produces how his books are presenting. Even his earlier work, like Beard does this – that particular book is held together by the nose, and folds open to shave off the beard from the cover. He created a three foot long cloth scroll comic, entitled Ghost. Each of the three volumes of his Monster Town series collects three tiny books held together by a monster head. His most recent work, Sack Lunch and the upcoming Laffy Meal, includes several different stories that all occur simultaneously split into a few small books that are put together in a bag (or sack), with each book being a different element of the meal – sandwich, fries, raisins, soda. All of Pranas’s work sets itself apart and catches the readers interest immediately with this creative packaging, and continues to be worth it thanks to his cartooning skills.
Pranas’s work ranges from comics about beards to lunch, with stories intended for both the adults and children in us all (and actual children, for that matter). After Pranas noticed that children were attracted to his style (a problem with Beard, which is full of foul language), he decided to start Balloon Toon Books, through which he produced three hardcover books so far - Dinosaurs in Space, The Totally Awesome Epic Adventures of Br
ave Boy Knight, and The Radically Awesome Adventures of Animal Princess, all intended just for kids. Similarly, Monster Town is super kid friendly, with each story focusing on a different monster resident of monster town and a new lesson. Recently, Pranas has been contributing backup stories and variant covers for Boom! Studios’ Bravest Warriors and Adventure Time as well.
The things Pranas makes are and excellent example of the unique and interesting things that comics lend themselves to. His refusal to adhere to one format or package, as well as the sheer quality and style of his work, has made his work incredibly fun and exciting. I thoroughly look forward to his future, both to what Pranas will present the comics world and what he will do himself.