Background: A disclaimer: This book is, to my knowledge, only available in Portuguese (at least so far).
I came across this book a couple of months ago, and its unassuming cover and strange title didn’t do very much to peak my interest at the time. However, I’m always interested in checking out new work from Portuguese authors, specially in the comics / graphic novels department, which is still too small here. Since then I’ve seen this book for sale practically in every bookstore I go to, which is out of the ordinary for any comic, but it makes me happy to see it’s getting the attention it deserves.
Review: This is a story set in Lisbon, a refuge point in World War II for people trying to flee Europe and the Nazi persecution. All over town children have been mysteriously disappearing from their homes, and the police find themselves helpless to solve the situation, leaving the parents disgruntled and the city in near chaos. Seemingly oblivious to this at first, we meet Eurico, a guy who works as delivery boy in a pizza store, who has a few problems of self-confidence and who wishes he could do more with his life than being screamed at by his boss and daydream about his co-worker. When his motorcycle (on which his job depends) gets stolen by a creature who looks very much like a goblin, his friend suggests he goes to an occult investigator, named Dog Mendonça, for help, and all hell breaks loose.
There were some things I loved about this book, others not so much. I absolutely loved the characters, specially Pazuul, the demon trapped inside an 8 year-old girl’s body. Very out of the ordinary and simply hilarious. The others were less original and more cliché, but their interactions made up for it, as there are a few moments of pure “laughing out loud” which for me were the high point of the book. I also smiled whenever I came across a reference for World of Warcraft.
My major gripe was with the story. I had only read the back cover and the inside flap of the cover (hadn’t even started on the book at all!) and already guessed who the big villain was. The plot was just too straight-forward and predictable for my taste. Everything that I guessed would happen, happened. And the characters acted in ways that were somewhat hard to believe… I mean, after a couple of hours together they were already calling each other “friends”, and the total lack of any incredulity Pizzaboy (aka Eurico) had when he first came into contact with the supernatural world made me doubt him as a character a bit.
Also, as I was reading this, I felt like I was looking at the storyboard for a movie, and not a graphic novel per se. This ultimately made sense when I read the making-of, since the script was originally to be made into a movie, but the author turned to the graphic novel medium when he realized he could never get the funds for it in Portugal, at least not without giving up quality. And lastly, there are many references to other movies, too many in my opinion, that are also explained in the making-of.
However, I’m still very happy I came across and read this book, and that they managed to make it and publish it. It was fun to read and I’m interested in reading more adventures with these characters. Also, the artwork is really nice and adapts itself perfectly to the story, both in terms of drawing and coloring. Here’s to wishing they make another one!
What’s Next: I’ll be looking out for another issue in this collection, and also for works by other Portuguese comic book authors, who I’m pretty sure are out there trying to make amazing books but failing to find the funds for it.
I’m still reading Of the Abuse of Words by John Locke, which is taking me a lot longer than I originally thought it would… I blame it on the old English. I might read another graphic novel until I finish it. The second and third volumes of Fables have been staring at me for a while, maybe I’ll try those.