Fantastic Butterflies TP James Kochalka 1st print


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Fantastic Butterflies Paperback
by James Kochalka (Author)

Tom Devlin provides the graphic design for one of the finest new graphic novels this year. James Kochalka has been called “one of the brightest lights of independent comics” and Fantastic Butterflies is a shining example of his genius.

Magic Boy wanders drunkenly through a hallucinogenic nightmare world of Cancer Robots, softball showdowns, dance parties, barbecues, time machines, testicular injury, and cake-baking kung-fu cuties! The graphic novel has twists and turns so bizarre you’ll be shouting out “OH MY GOD!” and scaring your roommates. It also happens to be hilariously funny and infectious in its bubbly charm, combining autobiography with a kind of magic science-fiction.

Paperback: 168 pages
Publisher: Alternative Comics

“Like much of Kochalka’s work, this is a series of intertwined episodes that progresses linearly but without much plot. Readers follow Amy and Josh, pals and superheroes of sorts (the Fantastic Butterflies of the title), and Magic Boy, Amy’s husband, who sports a Vulcan’s pointy ears. There’s also New Guy, who is neither human nor alien but wears a helmet and loses a testicle in a softball showdown; Birdy, a tall bird who is in love with New Guy; and Jason x-12, a former robot who now lives in the form of a depressed talking dog. Despite the book’s random nature, the story moves quickly and gracefully. Magic Boy warps himself a few hours into the future to the aforementioned softball game/party, while Amy and Josh bake a cake. Birdy takes New Guy to the hospital and professes her love for him, and the Fantastic Butterflies take Magic Boy dancing. Kochalka’s simple drawings will appeal to the young at heart. The thick lines of his uncluttered b&w drawings gloss over fine details and mute his bizarre reality. Layered, comic and infused with exuberance, Kochalka’s work creates a parallel universe that’s larger than the human world but more familiar than fantasy. Despite such sad elements as a man dying of cancer, Kochalka’s characters have an upbeat and positive manner that can turn a bar brawl into a dance party. In the end, the book’s Zen comes through as Magic Boy tells Jason x-12 at a bar, “The world is pure nonsense. Accept that and enjoy the silly ride.” If life’s a silly ride, Kochalka is selling the tickets. ” — Publishers Weekly

“Fantastic Butterflies” is James Kochalka’s best graphic novel. He and his wife Amy (both drawn as elves) are the main characters who are preparing for a party. They visit their friend, an artist, who is dying of cancer and then set off for a night of fun. Along the way we meet Jason X-12 (drawn as a dog), Amy’s friend Josh (pronounced Jawsrch and is female) as well as their other friends all drawn as animals or monsters. The world is similar to the one we live in except there are time machines you can use for a quarter and there are robots.

James’ drawing style is deceptively simplistic and utterly compelling to look at. The story pings along nicely and it’s overall message – celebrate life! – is charming and invigorating. It’s a fantastic graphic novel for those who want to experience James Kochalka’s work and who don’t want to dip into the Sketchbook Diaries and his children’s books (though those are excellent too). Great fun, highly recommended for comics fans.

Near mint, 1st print.