Benoît Sokal and the problem of anthropomorphism in quality comics JT Lindroos Perhaps growing up reading Donald Duck in the

rainy and cold land of the Finns prepared me for the adventures of an alcoholic chain-smoking PI named Canardo. Closer to the work of Charles Bukowski than Walt Disney, this world weary duck has wormed his way into the clotted veins of millions of European comics fans. It’s not hard to understand why these books are ‘foreign’ to most comics readers in the english-speaking world. The stories are depressing tragedies about a duck detective who solves his cases usually by accident after the innocent bystanders are dead from stray bullets, where the bad guy is more likely to be stabbed in the gut by our blackout drunk ‘hero’ after being backed into a corner. Duck don’t give a fuck. The books are only occasionally speckled with human characters. In the first full-length book, published in the UK as A Shaggy Dog Story, we meet many animals in human clothing. Whether a commentary on the absurdities of life or a caricaturist’s exaggeration of human flaws, these stories read like Raymond Chandler rewritten by Hunter S. Thompson channeling Graham Greene, and illustrated by a prolific Ralph Steadman. Especially the early books in the series are visceral, melancholy wails: dogs are driven insane by grief, terminally sick stork chanteuses are looking for that eternally elusive last chance, stupid farmer pigs turned into clueless guerrillas fighting useless wars and killing only those untainted by corruption. Amidst all this desperation stands our hero, a few more bullets left in his revolver, a half bottle of whisky to share with a pill-popping old bitch sitting on the backseat of his rundown old Cadillac, ready for one more futile attempt to save just one person with a spark of decency left in their undoubtedly short lives. Perhaps the problem attempting to bring these books to the American market has had more to do with trying to tone them down and sell them to your average comic book reader. These are not your average comic books. This is a prime example of the bond between tragedy and comedy. Perhaps the problem has been trying to pass them off as children’s comics, or as a ‘funny animals’ book. These are not for your children. These funny animals curse, booze and womanize towards a sad lonely death. So I wonder if one would do better taking a chance, aligning our antihero with the

Or go for the crime comic crowd with Phillip Ducklowe.literary end. . call him Henry Duckowski. Don’t fuck with the duck. Play up the tawdry and the desperate. Instead of Canardo. not the cute and funny. Get blurbs from Harry Crews and George Pelecanos.

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