Wall-E #1: “And Now Let the Wild Rumpus Begin!”
Posted December 20, 2009on:
When I was a small child, my favorite book was Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak. I loved this book for the pictures. I didn’t especially relate to a wild-child having a tantrum and being sent to his room. I did not own a wolf suit. I had certainly never been across a great sea to a land full of monsters. Even though I was very well behaved, especially compared to Max, I did have an active imagination. I was enthralled at the sight of such fantastic creatures appearing from the walls of my own room. My favorite part of the book was where Max proclaims that the Wild Rumpus is to begin and the subsequent pages of text-less scenery. I would stare intently at the expressions of the characters. I noticed where they were looking, or who they were looking at. I would imagine how they must feel in that moment and what this might lead them to do next. Where the Wild Things Are instilled in me a love for children’s books that survived my adolescence and continues in my adulthood. To me, an interesting picture – however stylized or juvenile – is more interesting than the most epic, passionate, or complex story. Something about a single moment of time captured by an artist’s clumsy ink leaves me with so many questions and fantasies that children’s illustrations remain among my favorite diversions.
Without any reflection upon these facts I read Wall-E #1. Before we continue, I should mention that I have not seen the Disney/Pixar film this comic is based on. Garnering media buzz and recommendations from my friends, this critically acclaimed, commercially successful film has been at the top of my “See This Movie” list for a year and a half. Regrettably, having such a list doesn’t actually get me into the theaters or excited about my Netflix queue, and so Wall-E remains at the top of a list I largely ignore. Still, when I saw this series I was naturally interested.
Reading Wall-E was like reading 22 pages of Wild Rumpus. I was blindsided by an instant appeal to my love of story through pictures. It may seem obvious that a guy who loves kids books is a comic fan. They do, after all, bear many similarities. But, it really isn’t the same thing. Not to me. When I read a comic I’m more interested in text, dialog, wittiness, and the language of the story in general. The pictures of a comic book are a stylistic choice in presentation that gives a sense of action and movement that plain text writing does not. No, this is an appeal to the pictures themselves. Pictures are the story rather than its aid.
Since I did not see the film I can only assume the bleak and spacious vibe was established by Pixar and that the creators of the comic are continuing rather creating the feel. Though I cannot give credit to Torres and Luthi for the concept I must give them credit for telling a fascinating and emotional comic with basically zero dialog. Not since New X-Men #121 have I read such an interesting book while relying solely on images and expressions to convey story. This last bit is a particular credit to Morgan Luthi for getting emotion out of a robot.
As a comic who’s audience is children, Wall-E has its share of slapstick comedy and goofiness. If you have kids I’m sure they’ll love watching a cute robot caper around having adventures. And if you enjoyed the film then I’m sure you’ll find entertainment in this book. But, if you’re like me and can spend 20 minutes looking at a cartoon-ey picture wondering what sits just beyond the borders of the image, or what an incidental character might be thinking, or what the tree in the background would feel like if you could touch it, if you’re like this at all, then Wall-E bears a quality that too few comics possess.