Sock Monkey: Uncle Gabby

By Tony Millionaire
40 pages, color
Published by Dark Horse

The first time Dark Horse published a color, hardcover Sock Monkey book, it was Tony Millionaire’s children’s book Sock Monkey: The Glass Doorknob. Under the circumstances, then, I think it’s forgivable that I assumed that the new Sock Monkey: Uncle Gabby was a second book for children. What I found instead, though, was a graphic novel that, like the regular Sock Monkey comic, is most definitely not a cute children’s book.

Uncle Gabby is now famous in the poetical society for his status as an “Un-Namer”. While Uncle Gabby is clearly enjoying his new status as a famous poet, there’s something that’s bothering him about his memories of when he, Drinky Crow, and others all lived with Ann-Louise in her mansion. What Uncle Gabby finds there, though, will certainly change how Uncle Gabby views his previous adventures.

If Millionaire was a more dramatic person he might’ve named Uncle Gabby something like The Last Sock Monkey Story or Sock Monkey: The End. The reality, of course, is that this is by no means the ending of Sock Monkey, although Millionaire’s story about the power of imagination could certainly act as one. The idea of Uncle Gabby removing the names of objects to help them regain their mystery and wonder is a potent one, and Millionaire’s examples of how a road or the moon is better without a name works perfectly. And as for the end of the story where Uncle Gabby’s imagination is able to reign supreme… well, it’s a true ode to imagination, something that’s always been at the core of every Sock Monkey story.

So much of Millionaire’s story for Uncle Gabby depends on the art, and that’s something that shines through. His illustration of the road winding through the hills as Uncle Gabby talks about its beauty, for instance, is breathtakingly beautiful. From the red glow over the horizon to the careful lines giving the hills texture, to the never-ending road moving into eternity, you can see exactly what Gabby is talking about. Millionaire’s able to draw the fantastic just as well, from spectacle-wearing sky serpents to flying seahorses, everything springs to life under Millionaire’s pen. Each page is literally more beautiful than the one before, and the final page is almost heartbreaking in its majesty.

Sock Monkey: Uncle Gabby is the strongest work from Millionaire yet; he’s really outdone himself and created a story that really deserves to be a special hardcover book. This is the kind of book that you will want to re-read many times on a regular basis. If you’ve never read Millionaire’s Sock Monkey before, this is certainly a beautiful way to discover what he’s capable of.

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