Book Review: Copper
Publication Date: January 1, 2010
· Kazu Kibuishi
by R.J. Carter
Published: January 21, 2010
Kazu Kibuishi's Copper is a magical foray into comics fantasy, blending together the best elements of Winsor McCay and Bill Watterson. In fact, early on in the collection, the Copper strips closely mirror the classic Little Nemo in Slumberland paradigm, with the titular Copper often awakening from his phantasmagorical dreams to find himself in bed -- sometimes thinking back somberly on the experience he's just had.
Copper and his dog, Fred, enjoy a variety of adventures together, with Fred being the more pragmatic of the pair, often wondering if the risks being taken are worth the rewards. Copper, on the other hand, while far from wreckless, is someone who appreciates the beauty of nature, ocean waves, and prefers to ignore the bridge in favor of traversing ravines by jumping from one giant mushroom to the other.
The majority of the comics are single-page stories, set in urban wonderlands or Mario-esque landscapes. But then in the middle of all that is the multi-page epic, "Maiden Voyage," which finds Copper and Fred taking flight in an aircraft of their own construction, made in a rather unique manner with Fred worrying (perhaps rightly) all the way about things that could go wrong. The unbelievable inventions and transportation further reinforce the whole reincarnation of Little Nemo.
Kibuishi's style is simple and clean, while simultaneously displaying a depth of both perspective and philosophy sorely lacking in most of today's comics. That Copper was a webcomic means you wouldn't have found it in any of your Sunday funnies (more's the pity). However, these reproduced strips are absolutely resplendent in their full-page, brilliant-color glory, and if you choose to read one page a weekend, you can almost relive the nostalgia of the Hearst newspaper era from a century gone.
Copper also includes an interesting backup feature, in which Kibuishi walks the reader through the process of how he creates a Copper strip, from pencils and inks through scanning, cleaning, and coloring.