How’s this for a high concept? In Egg Story, an egg, determined to be more than breakfast, becomes a ninja.
Feather and his sister Five-Spots learn early how short and harsh life can be. Mere minutes after they’re born, the farmer gathering them up throws their misshapen brother to the dog. At the supermarket, they discuss their fears. “What kind of a world are we living in?! Filled with murderers, kidnappers, thieves…” It’s easy to sympathize with the plucky young heroes.
No matter what, they keep trying. The sequence that endeared this book to me shows the eggs in the supermarket cart. They decide to get their box open, for some fresh air, only to see sitting next to them a roasting chicken. “EEEK!” the eggs all scream. But even when frightened, they don’t give up.
Once interred in the refrigerator, the eggs learn more about life from Old Man Broccoli. They refuse to accept their fate and soon escape to the top of the fridge. Feather’s a natural leader, inspiring his friends, but Connor suffers a cracked shell along the way.
The eggs’ coping strategies differ: Five-Spots dolls herself up; Cloud becomes an artist; Connor becomes obsessed with death — which for an egg means a frying pan and cookbook. Feather philosophizes about the nature of life and becomes a ninja as a means of taking control of his life and responsibility for himself and his friends.
Normal activities take on a surprising new light when drawn as performed by eggs. Shopping is quirky, and the requisite training sequence is both silly and inspiring. The ending requires a willingness to believe the positive, after all the eggs have been through, but it brought a smile to my face.
Eggs are an odd choice for protagonists. They’re simply shaped and not easily differentiated, but author J. Marc Schmidt does a good job giving them personality and distinction with a minimum of detail. His straightforward linework gives the story a realistic underpinning. (Just don’t think too hard about the occasional panel where the eggs have stick arms.)
This is a wonderful fable about initiative and determination, featuring some great comedy, and a terrific use of the comic medium.
The book has its own website.