Comics Time: Monkey & Spoon

Monkey & Spoon

Simone Lia, writer/artist

AdHouse, 2004

pages

$9.95

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What a pleasant book this is! I’ve loved it for a long time. It’s nothing more or less than a little scene about a husband-and-wife sock monkey and a doll made from a spoon who fight and then make up, but the specifics are just nailed. The book begins with a long wordless stretch as the couple fix a meal, with pointed silences and angry glances galore. When they finally start talking, each word is freighted with a day’s worth of frustrations and perceived slights, and every choice of phrase is belabored until it loses all meaning other than “WE’RE FIGHTING”: “This is pathetic ” “Pathetic? Is that what you think when I say something? It’s pathetic?” “I didn’t say that. You’re twisting my words.” Lia really gets the timing of how people talk when they’re arguing, too–I particularly loved how the monkey jumped on the spoon’s first soft-spoken statement with an all-caps “PARDON?” But soon enough a crisis intervenes, and the two instantly drop their hostile facades to attend to one another’s more pressing needs; once those have passed, they both remain in a safe enough emotional space to apologize for their bad acts and reach out to one another again. In my experience that’s how fights with the person you love work: Things can get as nasty as you’d expect when you’ve got a whole life together from which to draw your ammo, but it’s ultimately that life together that matters, and usually some part of you is just waiting an excuse to deactivate your offensive weapons and reconnect. Lia’s twee-crude line and character designs prove surprisingly resilient and effective in communicating such finely observed points, and providing big grin-provoking physical beats in the process. This book has a goal and meets it with precision and panache. Here’s your Valentine’s Day gift, Amazon Prime members.

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