The Beast Mother
Eleanor Davis, writer/artist
Little House Comics, 2006
Like The Wicker Man (the original, not the nightmarish Nic Cage version, and God am I tired of having to say that), this beautiful minicomic by the prodigiously talented artist Eleanor Davis smartly plays upon and then reverses the ingrained sympathies of the modern genre reader. What appears to be a simple, perhaps even simplistic fable about a maternal monster, a man with a gun, and how we kill what we don’t understand turns out, in a fairly grim (perhaps even Grimm) fashion, to carry almost precisely the opposite message, albeit with enough ambiguity to keep you uncomfortable long after you’ve finished.
Davis is a thrillingly precise artist. In a slightly different world her art might have drifted into the overly slick style of the Flight school of animation refugees; instead it stops short of their cold cartoonishness thanks to unexpected touches of vulnerability in the character design and figure work (she’s Young Comics’ preeminent poet of breasts and body hair), yet without sacrificing a sense that every line is going exactly where she wants it to. Her use of black is powerful, guiding the eye around her immaculately composed layouts and as strongly delineated as the mini’s ridiculously attractive die-cut cover. Best of all she ends the thing with no fuss or fanfare–nasty, brutish, short, and highly recommended.