Comics Time: Cindy and Biscuit

Cindy and Biscuit
Dan White, writer/artist
Milk the Cat, 2011
24 pages
Buy it from Milk the Cat

What a pleasant surprise this turned out to be. Created by Dan White, aka The Beast Must Die from the Mindless Ones blog, Cindy and Biscuit has a look that at first glance might tempt you into thinking it’s one of those try-too-hard “bang! pow! comics aren’t just for grown-ups anymore!” all-ages things that grown-ups on the Internet really like — but only at the very first and most cursory glance. Take a closer look at that cover: It’s not just a spunky-lookin’ little girl and her plucky canine companion, it’s also a mountain of skulls and a board with a nail through it. Things never get quite that grim inside, but it still comes as something as a shock when our dynamic duo spots an alien landing crew and, instead of having some zany spooky adventure, Cindy leaps through the air and brings her board down on an alien’s head with full force, shattering the helmet into tiny safety-glass fragments and smashing the head to a pancake with a KKRUNNT! (Great sound effect, by the way.) That’s the moment where it becomes apparent that White will be bringing to the surface all of the unpleasantly unrestrained id lurking beneath fondly remembered all-ages entertainments from Calvin & Hobbes to Bone. In addition to going Game of Thrones on those aliens, the three stories collected here see Cindy stumbling across a savage, slavering werewolf only to be patted on the head by the beast, who’s seemingly acknowledging a kindred spirit, and recounting a dream in which she floats to the Moon and tosses a rock at the Earth, blowing it up. White realizes that the danger we crave as kids is a projection of the dangerous sensations called up by our own anger and frustration with a world we’re quickly learning is unfair. The best thing about Cindy and Biscuit, though, is that it really could be an all-ages comic, and an excellent one at that. White’s thick line has a candy-like quality to it, wavy and chunky and almost chewy, and which gives his rather impeccable action shots real heft and momentum. He draws Cindy as a bounding presence whose feet stay a solid foot and a half in the air when she runs, but she doesn’t come across as weightless or effortless, but rather as a physical thing that’s got so much energy behind her she’s propelling herself off the ground. Biscuit’s a good design too, like an arrow in dog form. It’s solid enough in terms of figurework and depiction of action to put me in mind of a less claustrophobic Brian Ralph, while the use of a genuinely fun adventure-comic look and tone to say something melancholy about youth is reminiscent of sweet-and-sour “new action” books from Street Angel to Cold Heat. It’s easy to imagine a big color collection of these with a few more uncompromising little stories added in really knocking people for a loop. It’s well worth a look as is — an intriguing array of visuals and ideas from a talented off-the-radar cartoonist.

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