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Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Skin Horse. Volume One. Shaenon K. Garrity. (Writer & Artist), Jeffrey C. Wells (Writer). the Couscous Collective (2009)


This book is a collection of the first set of story arcs from the very funny web comic. Skin Horse is a secret government agency that provides basic social services to America's "nonhuman sapients". Genetically modified creatures and results of now redundant experiments and secret projects, they are assisted by the field team at Skin Horse. This team is headed by Sweetheart, a genetically modified, talking dog created by a, now deceased, mad scientist, Unity is a zombie,and Tip is an assertively heterosexual, cross dressing psychologist. The various situations this team find themselves in, including a journey through the sub basement of their building where Tip finds his negotiating skills stretched to the limit, are brilliantly funny and engaging.
The whole cast of this comic, the principals as well as the supporting players are all written and drawn with a warm affection that bring them to life. They are wonderfully engaged with the absurd situations that they find themselves in and the momentum of the story lines arises naturally from their actions and personalities. They are never overwhelmed by the high concept of the comic, it is just a natural background for their activities. The trio of Sweetheart, Unity and Tip are developed in depth and emerge as rounded characters that have a real claim on the affections of the reader, rather than purveyors of jokes.
The art is deceptively clear and simple, there is a very significant level of detail in each panel, they never look cluttered or overburdened, in particular the eloquent body language of the cast, including the non human members, is a delight. The humour is sharp and has a nice edge to it without being snarky. This is a great comic, well worth reading.

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