chimichanga

in full disclosure: I had the pleasure of this read thanks to NetGalley, Dark Horse Books, and an advanced reader’s copy. What follows is my free, fair, & honest review.

Chimichanga

written/illustrated by Eric Powell

w/ colors by Dave Stewart

Dark Horse Comics/Books, Fall 2011.

When Wrinkle’s Travelling Circus’ most adorable little bearded girl trades a lock of her magic beard hair for a witch’s strange egg, she stumbles upon what could be the saving grace for her ailing freak show – the savory-named beast: Chimichanga! ~publisher’s comments.

If the bearded woman Sister Peace had befriended in her youth in Linda Medley’s Castle Waiting had had a child, I imagine she would be Lula from Eric Powell’s vibrantly precocious Chimichanga! This finger-snapping little girl is sassy!

Lula the bearded girl and her family-owned Travelling Circus are more than cute. They are hilarious. There is “The Amazing Randy,” a “man with the strength of a slightly larger man” (see below); Horace, “the man that once saw Elvis,” Ezmerelda and her amazing two-eyed goat; Gene, “The indifferent clown;” the list goes on. And with acts like these, how can Wrinkle’s Travelling Circus be suffering financially? Then there is Dagmar the Witch with whom Lula trades beard hair for the strange egg. Dagmar who has had chronic flatulence problems for years. There is plenty of silliness to go around. And then there are the more serious notes.

Cue the real villain. The Man. Rivalry amongst Freak Show performers and the magical properties of beard hair create a perfect storm and opportunity for Mr. Dinderly of Dinderley Pharmaceuticals Inc to sweep in and takes what whom he believes to be his: Lula. Can no one stop him? It doesn’t seem likely. And should they bother? Dinderly can fund the freak show’s retirement. Fortunately, the pluck of our heroine is infectious and Mr. Wrinkles and Heratio the boy faced fish come up with a plan.

Chimichanga is geared toward the older crowd, despite the young protagonist and sometimes juvenile humor. There isn’t much in the way of objectionable content, it is more of concern over an inability to get the humor. Unless you look forward to endlessly explaining why you are laughing, or enjoy conversations on corrupt corporate antics with a grade-schooler (as some of us do), you may want keep this one on your shelf a while. However, there is that self-esteem angle. Who could be more proud to be who she is and in the company she is with than Lula the bearded girl? Then there are lessons in how scary googly-eyed monsters make for good friends. Yeah, Chimichanga is a good read for the older crowd.

If you are looking for a brilliant entertaining read that will have you sporting beards to mustache parties, Chimichanga is a must. And if you aren’t a Hipster, you will likely appreciate Eric Powell’s candy colored comic just the same. Chimichanga is an expected delight and one to add to that formidable collection of comics.

——so noted—–the first two images are before coloring by the multiple Eisner-award-winning colorist Dave Stewart. and I know: I do try to have at least one paragraph on the illustrations. I got caught up in the character and story. The illustrations are so effective, so effortless, I had to revisit them. so here goes:

Chimichanga is reminiscent of early comic strips like Little Orphan Annie by Harold Gray, and there is a bit of nostalgia at work in the comic as it rises up to meet present day relevance.  There is a lot of movement and expression and depth that is achieved in the shading and light, and in the coloring. Yet, the illustrations do not appear complicated, thus providing an ease for even the most amateur comic reader to be charmed by the story and it’s occupants’ antics. Chimichanga‘s cute and sentimental mien is a lure and a balm. The comics accessibility is less a veneer and more a counter-balance, while yet providing its own implication. Chimichanga is as intelligently done as it is adorable.

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