July 25, 2017

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All-Ages or Small-Ages #37 (Weirdy by AP Quach)


See all of the past entries of All-Ages or Small-Ages here.

There are a wide array of all-ages comics out there from the classic Archie comics, through the  Sonic the Hedgehog and Disney, all the way to the original properties such as Lumberjanes. You might look at one of these books and think that, as an adult, it doesn’t have much to offer you. As someone who has discovered a deep fondness for titles such as these, I’ve been surprised by how rich and complex the stories can be. All-Ages or Small-Ages? is a feature that takes a look at the books that fall under this banner and attempts to analyse whether or not their assigned label is apt; is it a book that you can read along with your children?

Words have power - that’s an undeniable aspect of any language. Media usually strips away words to create the impression of its absence, to allow you to see remains when one of the most basic components of life is taken away. Weirdy continues along that trend and removes the words to highlight the strength and the power of what remains: the art.


Weirdy follows a nameless child who acquires the titular moniker while at his first summer camp. He suffers from an unnamed skin condition and lacks the social skills of the other children, isolating him from the rest of the campers. Fortunately, his innocence and innate positivity manage to drive the story to some really magnificent places.

The first page of this comic highlights the behaviour of the other children, as well as their parents, as judgemental. Upon seeing Weirdy, the parents all make some effort to hide him from their own child. While the exaggerated body proportions and elongated limbs feel inherently cartoonish, the apprehension on their faces is not played for humour; you instead empathise immediately with the beatific Weirdy in front of them.

The idea of positivity and ignorance to hate is a resonant theme throughout this comic. While not intentional on Weirdy’s part, due to his disabilities, whenever we as readers see the people around him begin to stare or whisper amongst themselves, our focus is always placed firmly on the well-meaning Weirdy in the foreground. In a world that so often relegates characters with disabilities to the butt of the joke or as afterthoughts, I greatly appreciated that Weirdy always remained the absolute focus. This is Weirdy’s moment and everyone needs to get out of his way.

The plot itself is rather simple, but it honestly doesn’t try to be anything else. There is a moment towards the middle of the issue that begins the transition into something more fantastical, but it still doesn’t quite go far enough. Without spoiling the details, because they are worth experiencing first-hand, Weirdy has an accident that drags him into interactions with creatures and beings that can’t exist in the regular world.

While you might imagine that this would detract from the heartening core message of the story, it instead enhances the reader’s impression of Weirdy as a person. Even in the most dire of situations, he sees the best in the world; everything and everyone is something that he could be friends with.

All of this nuance and intensity is conveyed without a single speech bubble. Quach relies on his exquisite watercolour artwork to showcase both the enthusiastic innocence of the titular character and the sidelong glances from the supporting cast. Not only do the panels look tremendous on their own, their ability to tell a story cannot be overstated.

There is one particular pair of panels on the very last page of the comic where Weirdy’s mother is having a discussion with the camp counsellor. With a single hand motion from the counsellor, we get an understanding of the polite awkwardness of the conversation as he attempts to tell Weirdy’s mother about the power of the child’s imagination. Her subsequent nonchalance as she is surrounded by fantastical creatures lets us know that what we saw in this issue was only the tip of the iceberg of what she’s had to deal with, wrapping the story up very nicely.

While there is a lot to adore about this comic, its simplicity does tend to push it towards a younger audience. It is a story that is unquestionably skillfully told, but the speed with which you fly through it, coupled with the fact that you can extract all of the details in a single reading, makes this a comic that I can recommend wholeheartedly and unreservedly to children.

Let me know if there's a comic that you think I should be checking out. I'm always on the look-out for some more hidden All-Ages gold. Contact me at mcdickson101@gmail.com or head over to check out the podcast that I co-host You Know What I Like...? on SoundCloud.