Comics Time: Owly Vol. 5: Tiny Tales

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Owly Vol. 5: Tiny Tales

Andy Runton, writer/artist

Top Shelf, August 2008

144 pages

$10

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This collection of Owly shorts features an eight-panel strip commissioned by Wizard for one of its periodical Wizard Edge indie-comics spotlight supplements back when I worked at the magazine. I remember being slightly amazed when it came in at how well Runton was able to boil down his usual themes–the need to be kind and share, obviously; more subtly, the notion that friendship, or just being a good person to others, frequently requires sacrifice, and that that’s not so bad; and just in terms of the visuals and basic set-ups, the interaction between “people” and nature–to a handful of panels. That’s the pleasure of this Owly book compared to the others: seeing Runton trot his characters and concepts through a succession of scenarios in short order. Maybe it’s just the presence of an appendix filled with early Owly sketches and a pair of the earliest Owly strips (in which Runton’s art is much more angular; the move to curvilinear forms was a smart one) that makes me think about the collection in this fashion, but it seems like practice would make perfect for a strip like this, and that’s what seeing one Owly story after another gives you the sense of–a talented craftsman riffing on a basic idea. The conclusions to several of the strips, like the one where Owly and Wormy meet a family of migrating geese out on a frozen pond, were so cute they made me chuckle and beam; the conclusion of another, about Owly and Wormy’s attempt to help a rabbit make a fancy flowerpot to replace the expensive one she’d gotten as a present for her grandpa but broken on the way to delivering it to him, was so sweet and unselfconsciously loving it actually made me tear up. Yep, that’s right: I laughed, I cried.

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