Goodbye Little Pointy Teeth
Brian Moore is brilliant. Apparently, Goodbye Little Pointy Teeth is his debut comic collection, and it’s gorgeous, with unusual influences and painted in watercolor. Don’t think pastels, though, but vibrant shades that suit the unworldly subjects.
There are three stories, with a series of interstitials between them, making up 48 perfect-bound pages. “A Crooked Line”, in black and white, deconstructs the medium of the kind of cartoon you see in the New Yorker to tell a meta-fictional crime story. And it’s beautifully cartooned, living up to the reputation of an Arno (name-checked as a neighborhood) as well as alluding to famous recurring gags. The page turns are the most effective I’ve seen in a while, serving as “chapter breaks” to jump the story ahead.
The in-between single-pagers, starring Mr. Sweet on his morning, afternoon, or evening stroll, has an older man in a yellow overcoat and hat attacked by monsters that could as easily be symbolic fantasies. His outfit evoked for me both Curious George and the Yellow Kid. I have no idea if that’s intentional (it seems unlikely), but that’s the kind of mind-expanding results I found myself experiencing from reading this book, a welcome response. I was never quite sure what Moore was getting at, so I mentally explored the options, pondering different interpretations. I enjoyed feeling challenged by such beautiful art in such classic magazine-illustration style.
The longest story in the book is “Company Man Clocks Out”, in which a red-headed (literally, including his face) man in a grey flannel suit spins a yarn about corporate intrigue, ladder-climbing competition, and a company product gone wrong. He’s sent into a forest to find the escaped Dingus but things don’t go as planned, what with the backstabbing and all.
Like the title story, a version of which can be read online, it’s a metaphor for the corporate condition using shared folklore of classic monsters. In “Company Man”, it’s the body-snatcher. In “Pointy Teeth”, it’s the Wolfman and Dracula, and the nature of transformation for survival and to make a living. I wish more people used comic art to make points about the economic world so many of us are coping with. (And no, Dilbert doesn’t count.) For me, this fits in with Pope Hats and Shoplifter as gorgeous, illustrative art about people struggling to escape the rat race.