Story: Mike Bullock Art: Jack Lawrence, Paul Gutierrez & Bob Pedroza Extras: A beautiful gallery, and a Tiger-Man story by Bullock and Marcelo Di Chiara Publisher: Image Comics Price: $14.99
Be brave, little lion!
These are the words accompanying young Joey throughout the story. This is also the message to all readers.
For those unfamiliar with the comic, it tells the story of Joey, a kid who learns to confront his fears and share faith with others. Mike Bullock created a fantastic tale: stuffed animals have always been the source for courage for the little ones and they have been protecting them from the things that go bump in the middle of the night for a long, long time. Joey's protectors are the Night Pride, the lions and tigers on the picture left. Also pictured is Courtney - together they have to fight the Beasties who try to take over the Stuffed Animal Kingdom.
In the second volume, Valthraax, the leader of the Beasties, accomplishes to dethrone King Bear, who is betrayed by his brother. Joey, Courtney and the Night Pride embark on a dangerous adventure to save King Bear and defeat the armies of the Beasties. Along their way, they meet Marco, a former Polar Bear Guardian, who also has to find faith again...
This is a wonderful story. Once I started reading, I couldn't stop - I had to know what happens next. Mike Bullock takes simple ideas and creates something familiar but original at the same time. The story begins at a dark hour and the reader experiences how the human characters and Marco slowly regain faith. They develop in the four issues, they become stronger, they fight their fears. Surely, there'll be sacrifices to make, but the message is clear all the time: Be brave!
At first glance, this comic is directed at children. It is definitely a comic a child should be reading because Mike Bullock understands how uniquely it perceives the world, and with this story he gives a child the weapons to fight its fears: faith and imagination. Bullock's world is not black and white, but rather white - unfortunately, with some shades of black in it. It's a world full of wonders, but we tend to forget that. This is one of the reasons the story is also directed at adults. Mike Bullock manages to share this view of the world: there's always hope. The beauty's right here, we just neglect to look at it the way we should.
And what can I say about the beautiful art? It is reminiscent of Calvin & Hobbes to me (just have a look at the very first scene of this volume and tell me with a straight face you did not think of it! :)). It looks like a Sunday morning cartoon and I mean this in a very positive way. By the way, there's at least a cartoon series here, and TV producers won't be overlooking this series for too long. Jack Lawrence, Paul Gutierrez and Bob Pedroza provide some of the most gorgeous art seen in comics today.
I highly recommend this series. If you're not reading it, you're missing out. Lions, Tigers and Bears has what comics need nowadays: magic! Go here for an eight-page preview, albeit from the first volume.
PS: Yes, there should be more Tiger-Man stories, Mike!