Pablo & Jane And The Hot Air Contraption
José Domingo, 56 pgs, Flying Eye Books, flyingeyebooks.com, $19.95
In these times of comics being appreciated as both literature and serious art for older readers, it’s always a pleasure to see a book that’s both innovative and aimed at the often-overlooked kids’ market. There are definitely some kids out there who need heroes outside of the Marvel and DC brands, and Pablo and Jane fit that need quite nicely.
On a rainy Sunday afternoon, fearless adventurer Jane convinces her bookish brother Pablo to join her in exploring the ominous abandoned mansion on the hill overlooking their house. There they meet Dr. Jules, an inventor trapped in a rat’s body, as well as his arch-rival, Dr. Felinibus-a crafty one eyed cat. Our heroes discover the good Doctor’s dimension hopping hot air contraption and after an act of sabotage by Felinibus, find themselves trapped in the Monster Dimension. To get out, they have to travel through a mirror world to ours, but populated by oddball monsters and find the scattered parts to repair the contraption. The reader has to search for those parts in elaborate pages crammed with the creatures populating the Monster Dimension, and it’s there where the fun of this book kicks into a higher gear.
With an art style reminiscent of Ron Rege meeting Chris Eliopoulos (Okie Dokie Donuts), José Domingo fills each page and panel with a colourful energy and a manic fun that never lets up. The leads are both precocious and brainy, but never veer into bratty or whiny territory. Still, they read like actual children instead of an adult’s version of kids. The end of the book sets up potential sequels, and I definitely hope we’ll be seeing more of this duo soon. (Matthew Daley)