From Publishers Weekly
gathers the first nine issues of Larry Marder's Beanworld
comic, first published in the 1980s. Scanned from the original artwork, the engaging, clear black and white illustrations bring to life a universe populated by beanlike characters, their adversaries the Hoi-Polloi Ring Herd and a variety of other creatures. The society evolves over the course the book, with the beans learning about art, creating new music and inventing useful tools. Their world starts out in perfect balance, with everyone performing their assigned role and depending on others to do the same, but a variety of developments creates crises from which the inhabitants must struggle to recover. The text is at times repetitive and didactic; the first chapter, in which readers need to learn the rules and characters of Beanworld can be tough going. Those who press on and immerse themselves in Marder's creation will be rewarded with a charming tale. Its themes of environmental conservation, mutual dependency, faith and sacrifice will resonate with readers of all ages facing the challenges of the 21st century, despite being written over two decades ago. (Feb.)
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An early offering of the burgeoning indie-comics market of the ’80s, the fun and bizarre Beanworld returns after 20 years. A clear spiritual, visual, and linguistic descendant of the classic comic Krazy Kat, Beanworld is also an unlikely ancestor of Jeff Smith’s perennial favorite, Bone, with a similarly expansive world, eclectic range of fantasy races, and charming protagonist. The tales collected here follow Mr. Spook and a cast of peculiar characters on adventures through their surreal “four layers of reality” as they hunt for chow and come up against the machinations of the Mossy Mammoth (a thinly veiled jab at the Jolly Green Giant, whose corporate lawyers must have been dozing through the ’80s). Far ahead of the curve back in the day, the theme of symbiotic ecology has even more relevance to current environmentalism and politics now than it did then. Though the simple black-and-white art remains surprisingly fresh, the panel and word density makes for a somewhat slow and involved read, which will likely lead to a smaller but very committed audience. Grades 8-12. --Jesse Karp