GRAPHIC NOVELS: The Spirit of Chuck Jones Lives On In PATH!

Doppler is a bipedal rabbit with the worst luck – and he has two rabbit’s feet! So, there he is, stuck in a pit and about to become a crocidog’s breakfast when out of the sky comes hurtling… an elephant! Sucker lands right on the crocidog! Unfortunately, Doppler’s luck, being what it is, things don’t quite work out – even as he and his new bestest pal scramble out of the pit. Right into more trouble…

PATH

PATH is an energetic, sepia-toned ride. For most of its eighty pages [not including covers], Gregory S. Baldwin’s odd couple race or one problem to another, generating shocks, surprises and most of all, laughs. Then, just when you finally twig to the whole Road Runner/Wiley Coyote vibe, he pulls a fast one and lays on an effective bit of poignancy.

Like Chuck Jones, or Tex Avery, Baldwin knows how to pace a tale for maximum yuks and appropriate misting-over moments. There’s a reason, you see, why Doppler and his unnamed elephantine friend come together when they do. Though there’s not a lot of dialogue, it’s mostly pretty good – even if Baldwin falls into the using “they’re” for “their” at one point. Thanks to his pacing, this one minor annoyance zips by quickly enough that it doesn’t take us out of the story for more than a second.

Doppler and his new friend are, as mentioned above, a comic book odd couple. Doppler is the fussy, picky one who’s always complaining, while the elephant [who seems as comfortable as a biped as a quadruped – which leads to some great visuals] is more of a take-life-as-it-comes, laid-back kinda guy.

Baldwin does a nice job of emphasizing Doppler’s emotions by the positioning of his ears, which perk up when things going well – and drooping, lifelessly when they’re not. Perched on the elephant’s back, they stream out behind him when they’re running. There are moments when we know how Doppler feels just from his ears.

Baldwin’s art is a unique blend of blocky [almost like woodcuts in some sequences] and fluid [when there’s running to be done]. He makes great use of his blacks – in some panels, the action is defined as much by shadows as it is by light. At times, his use of light and shadow imply a dramatic undercurrent beneath the more overt humor – a device that builds to the impact of the story’s most poignant revelation.

PATH is a solid, entertaining tale.

Final Grade: B

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