So here we are, in the final chapter of these Zoonbats comics I’ve been reading for the last month (one review a week, people of the future), so I feel like now’s a good time to look at the big picture. And it’s… hazy? 200+ pages into this story, I kind of feel like I should have a better sense of where things are headed. But hey, I’m getting ahead of myself, as I haven’t even talked about the comic yet. This time around we’re back with Toast and Bloom, and we get all kinds of details about her upbringing and story. When we last saw the two of them they’d melted their car battery because they were using it to put the robot giraffe into sleep mode, so their current plan is to walk to the nearest train depot and ride the rails to their robot that’s run amok. Which is a thing I never get a chance to type in all sincerity. Anyway! We also learn what the robot’s name means, and it got a legit chuckle out of me, so good work there. Roughly the first half of the book is the two of them walking and talking, along with the introduction of gigantic structures that were abandoned decades ago. Long story, but essentially there was a miracle chemical that allowed structures to greatly increase their size very quickly, this same chemical was used in terrorist attacks, and this led to all kinds of construction projects in various stages of completion getting abandoned. Finally they’re able to hitch a ride to the train station, and naturally they make friends with their driver, which lets us learn all about another aspect of this vast world and the people in it. The notes in the afterward really are invaluable here, going into far more detail than the comic allows, so I hope he keeps them in whatever collected edition eventually comes out of this book. We also get to see a jacket that seems to be at least mildly magical (or it’s highly advanced tech), which I’m guessing plays a part in things later. So yet another solid issue, with me still totally on board to see what happens next, with ridiculously detailed artwork that seems to get better each time and a rich universe that’s literally been thought about and constructed over decades. So why is it that I’m still not sure if the whole thing is coming together? No seriously, I’m asking, because I don’t get it. Possibly that’s because the story literally hasn’t come together yet; these two groups searching for the robot giraffe are clearly going to meet up eventually. Eh, who knows. It’ll become clearer to me as the story goes on, with the next issue projected for late 2023. Until then, each chapter is up for free on his website, or roughly $10 per issue if you’re like me and are determined to be buried alive under an unfortunate comics collapse in their apartment.
I’m starting to wonder if we’re ever going to catch up to that robot giraffe. And if you’re coming into this review blind, reading the previous comics and/or reviews for this series would help with that one. This time around we’re back with Wayne traveling along in Murray’s semi. We get a flashback again, this time a flashback within a flashback for some extra oomph. Wayne thinks back to a strange musician mystic type who he was never sure actually existed. He tried avoiding her after the weirdness got to be too much for him, but she finally cornered him and gave him a vision of a traumatic piece of business in his childhood. It involved cops, flamethrowers and the disappearance or death of his mentor (I’ve read too many comics to assume a death without a body, so forgive my skepticism of his death), and it’s something Wayne had managed to put out of his mind for a lot of years. From there we learn about how that led directly to Wayne leaving town and his quest to try to find meaning, which lead in a roundabout way to being asked to help track down the robot giraffe and his “chance” meeting of Murray. Yep, we finally get some clarity on that aspect of things too, as Murray fesses up about a few things. Oh, and we briefly even see Wayne and Toast in the same panel, even if it’s not exactly a pleasant interaction and it only happens in a flashback. There are the usual notes about specifics in the afterward section, which was especially helpful this time around in identifying exactly what the cops were doing. He also includes a few older comics from various zines at the time (1995ish), so we can see some very early iterations of some of these characters. I’m still hooked on the story, even if I am starting to doubt that we’ll ever catch up to that robot. But hey, now that a few mysteries have been solved, I might be completely wrong about that guess. Check in next week to find out, I suppose. Once again I’m not sure how much it costs to buy the physical copies, but the whole issue is available online at the link.
Last time around we spent most of our time with Wayne (and his traveling companion), but this time around we get to learn all about Toast and Bloom. Well, mostly Toast, but with the way things are going I’d guess we’ll learn more about Bloom before it’s all said and done. And if you’re lost by that opening, it might have something to do with your not having read the first review and/or issue, which is odd, as it’s up for free on his website, so it’s not like you have much of an excuse. Toast and Bloom are on the road, trying desperately to catch up to their runaway robot giraffe. They’re making progress, as the robot can only go 30 miles per hour while they have a car that can obviously go faster than that, but the process is wearing on both of them. But then Bloom has an idea (that Toast should have considered ages ago, honestly) that buys them both a bit of time. We also get to meet that giraffe, sort of, although we’re no closer to figuring why it ran away or its destination. A good chunk of the previous issue was a flashback and this issue sticks with that same idea, as we spend a lot of time with Toast when he was working in a restaurant. This section had some serious detail in it, enough to make me wonder if Giles ever worked in a restaurant, and his notes in the back made clear that a few things in it are taken directly from his life, including the spectacularly stupid way that they had to remove grease when the buckets filled up. Seems like a method that’s just asking for spillage or injury, and a trail of highly flammable grease leading to a restaurant sounds like an explosion waiting to happen. Anyway, we also see the guy who inspired Toast to make his robot, learn more about that guy, and see his amazingly complicated plan to get back at their horrible boss all the way through. And honestly, it felt too spoiler-y to use it as the sample image, but Toast bursting out of the kitchen while doing his part of the plan and screaming “terrible mishap!” was one of the funniest things in this book, especially considering the severity of what was happening. That was a long way to go to avoid spoiling the scheme, but totally worth it. And as I said, we get plenty of notes in the back of the book, with even more evidence that Giles has been thinking about this world for a long time and has a lot of very specific details worked out in his head. Oh, and we also see how that flower pot got on Toast’s head. It might be exactly how you suspected! Overall I really love a story that’s not afraid to take some time to establish the characters and the world, so I’m happy with the pace. Maybe next issue we’ll see just what that robot giraffe is up to.
So this should be a fun experiment, at least for me. Giles is returning to the world of Zoonbats for the first time in ages; I reviewed the first couple of issues of his series around 2010. Odd, I thought I had reviewed more of them, as I had at least half a dozen issues. Anyway! He rereleased the whole thing in new editions, the first covering issues #1-4, with three additional volumes out so far. Since I already reviewed half of this edition back in the day, I figured it would be interesting to review it again, then read my old review just to see if my opinions remained the same/just how often I repeat myself. My guess is that it’s plenty, but I’ll reveal the answer at the end. So! This new edition does look gorgeous. Giles has extensive notes in the back explaining the changes he’s made and what brought him back (mostly the lettering and he never really gave up on the story, respectively), and while he says he hasn’t touched up the art, I’d swear it looks even better this time around. This is the story of Wayne, who’s hitchhiking around the country, and his friends Toast and Bloom. They made a robot giraffe that fled as soon as they completed it, and it seems to have a specific destination in mind. So they make plans to meet up with Wayne in the middle, as he’s closer to where the giraffe is headed. This issue covers Wayne wandering for a bit before finally meeting up with an old friend who can offer him a ride. This old friend then tells Wayne a story of his time as a truck driver detailing when he was attacked by a roving gang of bandits, how all seemed lost and how he got out of it by spoilers. Yeah, it’s a big part of the overall story, so it’s going to be left a mystery here. We also briefly check in with Toast and Bloom on their journey, but they don’t intersect with Wayne yet. This issue is mostly about doing some work building up this world (Giles has a map of the areas and he gets pretty specific in the notes about what each area is like), and as such does a solid job of hooking readers in to try and figure out what’s happening here. So yeah, I’d say it’s an intriguing start and I’m curious what happens next. Now let’s check the old reviews! Looks like the review for #1 is way earlier than I thought, maybe even 2002ish, as I mentioned working on the website for “several months.” Then the review for the second issue was 2010, apparently done when I was revisiting old comics for reviews. The art is exactly the same (I compared an old sample image to the new book in front of me), so I was wrong on that. And he was telling the truth, which I had no reason to doubt. So I look like a dummy in real time. Not exactly a new experience for me. But I liked it overall then too, so that hasn’t changed. One odd thing: I can’t find anywhere that sells these new editions. You can go to his website and read each issue online for free, so there’s that, but if you want physical copies I guess check with Giles. Which makes the price an absolute mystery, so I’ll spin the random price wheel… $15.
Wow, this page hasn’t been touched in years.Â In that review for the first issue of this series I talk about all the “months” that I’ve been doing this.Â Considering that I started this in August of 2001 and that I’m going on 9 years rambling now, that was a VERY long time ago.Â This was also apparently back when I would occasionally scan all books that were sent to me and post them without reviews, in the hope that I would get back to them eventually, and I clearly failed on this one.Â Still, one scanner without the proper software + a prescanned comic = a new review!Â Refer back to the review for the first issue if you get too confused, as I tried to sum up the whole thing.Â This issue takes place entirely in the truck of Murray, as he gives Wayne (an alligator) a ride.Â The first chunk is spent with Murray explaining the many wonderful things about his truck, followed quickly by his description of the drugs he takes to make his deliveries on time and his constant need for coffee.Â This would make for a pretty dull issue, but then Murray tells the story of the time when a bunch of road pirates (for lack of a better term) attempted to hijack his truck.Â He manages to zap one with his cattle prod, but that still leaves five on the truck, trying to get the trailer loose and bash him in the skull to prevent any other zappings.Â It ends on a cliffhanger (although you know that he survived, what with him telling this story to Wayne and all), and it’s been way too long since I read these to have any idea what happens next.Â Not sure if this is still in print, as I couldn’t find a hint of it at his website, but the fact that it’s still named Zoonbats gives me some hope.Â If you can find it, it’s worth checking out…
If I ever bitch about having this website and working on reviewing comics, somebody find out where I live and punch me in the nose. I’ve found out about so much great stuff in the months that I’ve been working on this that I probably wouldn’t have seen for years, if ever, if I was just out trying to find good stuff. This series is great. Giles calls it a “urban fantasy road trip sci-fi adventure novel” and it’s eventually going to be 450 pages long. He’s putting it out in 12 page installments, so it might take a few years to get done, but it’s worth sticking around. This is one of the rare books where you know it’s going to be best all collected (as almost everything is) but there’s still a great flow from issue to issue so you don’t feel like you’re wasting your time getting the little books. I was afraid that anything with a talking alligator and a robot giraffe who could also turn into a dragon would be ridiculous, but he actually pulls it off really well. Fun dialogue, interesting adventures, good art… it’s hard to find much to complain about here. I’m not sure where it’s going yet, but I plan on getting in on the action now. I do have a couple of minor complaints with it, but they’re mostly tiny technical things. Still, maybe he doesn’t know about them, so here goes. The synopsis at the start of every issue is a great idea, especially with a story like this, but you have to leave a little bit to the imagination. They should make you know what’s going on but still be curious to get the actual issues that the artist is talking about. He explains things to death in #6. If he keeps it up, he won’t have any room for the actual comic in a few more issues. I didn’t like all the covers being blue, but that’s mostly because people who see this in a comic store might not take the time to look and see that they’re all separate issues and jut grab one of them. Minor things, like I said. This book is a lot of fun and I’d recommend it to anybody who likes intelligent, thoughtful adventure stories. Check out his website and go ahead and scroll down here for some samples.