Or Else #4

Written by Kevin Huizenga
Illustrated by Kevin Huizenga
Drawn & Quarterly

I first read Huizenga as part of the Ignantz series from Fantagraphics, and I think I accidentally insulted him by saying I was surprised to find his work reviewed in the New York Times.

(I didn't mean it as an insult, Kevin! I'm not used to the print world doing quality comics reviews, that's all.)

"Or Else" is an almost zine-line creation featuring frequent Huizenga creation Glenn Ganges that he recently discontinued. This particular edition features Ganges waking up from a dream centered around Mutual of Omaha's "Wild Kingdom" and then interacting with the typical wild kingdom of a person who lives in the city-suburbs, namely squirrels, pidgeons, cats, and bugs.

The stories are very short and are very much life-captures. Nothing earth-shattering happens to Ganges or the things he interacts with, well, unless you're the pidgeon he tries hard not to kill with his car. If you're looking for dynamic action or movement, this is not the work for you. But if you can appreciate several panels of a cat playing with a beetle that has quite the pincer, then you're in the right place.

In the back of these tales, Huizenga plays with commercials on cheap television, with everything from toothpaste to carpet stains to medicine. (I think he also throws in a sly nod to Jason the cartoonist as well.) Finally, there's a section based apparently on a real series of books by a man called Maurice Maeterlinck and some backing material based on scenes in the main stories.

"Or Else" is a mishmash of things that would not appeal to all readers and is not the place to start for Huizenga's work. Those who like zines and those looking for more experimental works from cartoonists whose work is notable will definitely like this, however, and its to them I primarily recommend it.