Sock Monkey Vol. 4 #1

By Tony Millionaire
24 pages, black and white
Published by Dark Horse Comics

Some friends of mine talk about a certain story structure being “a Simpsons story”. It’s when you have a story that starts going in one direction, then radically shifts into something completely different within the first few minutes. I don’t know exactly what that’s called, but Tony Millionaire knows exactly how to make it work when he creates a new issue of Sock Monkey.

Sock Monkey and Uncle Gabby are enjoying Sock Monkey’s amazing new domino arrangements when the doll Inches reveals an amazing discovery: it’s caught itself a real live pony! Sock Monkey and Uncle Gabby find this hard to believe, needless to say, so it looks like they’re going to have to just investigate this phenomenon themselves and see just what’s going on…

An issue of Sock Monkey never moves to its conclusion in a straight-forward manner, that’s for certain. Constantly twisting and turning, every page is a new adventure as the unexpected is revealed to the reader’s delight. Millionaire’s imagination is really enchanting, able to take the fantastic and bring it to life. What surprises me in the writing the most, though, is that Millionaire is able to make his characters speak in a faux-Victorian speech pattern that doesn’t seem forced, or fake. When Sock Monkey exclaims, “That explains the doggedness of the Oceanic Society!” it could have come across as being ludicrous, yet somehow it just works.

Past issues of Sock Monkey have featured finely detailed inks by Millionaire, so I was more than a little surprised to open the comic and find that this one was drawn in what seems to be charcoals. This wasn’t a complaint, though; it’s absolutely gorgeous. The texture that Millionaire is able to bring across using this technique is breathtaking, and perfectly appropriate to a story set partially on the beach. There’s no lack of detail from this, either; the scenes where Sock Monkey and company escape from their pursuer outside the window show that Millionaire is able to make every panel look so fantastic.

We only get a new Sock Monkey project once a year or so, be it a color children’s picture book, a novel, or in this case, a new two-issue mini-series. The one thing that always links them, though, is that it’s a cause to celebrate, and this is no exception. Sock Monkey is one of the best series published by Dark Horse, or quite possibly one of the best series published, period. If you aren’t reading this enchanting mix of gothic whimsy, you don’t know just what you’re missing.

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