Owly: Just a Little Blue

By Andy Runton
128 pages, black and white
Published by Top Shelf Productions

Andy Runton’s Owly was one of my favorite books published last year; a rare example of a book that really was all ages, with something to offer anyone and everyone who read it. It was because of that I was so worried about his new book, Owly: Just a Little Blue. His debut was such a strong book that I couldn’t help but think to myself, “What if it just doesn’t live up to my high expectations?” Of course, the real question that I should have asked myself is, “Why did you even worry?”

Owly and his friend Wormy love setting out birdseed for the smaller birds of the forest. When they spot a bluebird building a nest, they decide to try and help the bird family—but can they overcome Little Blue’s instant distrust of them? And what sacrifices will the two friends ultimately have to make in order to help the other birds?

What I love about Runton’s writing is that these are stories that contain meaning for all different sorts of audiences. Younger readers might just get the idea of not giving up when it comes to helping others. Teenagers will probably better understand the idea of sacrifice in order to build bridges. Adults will probably pick up on the idea of having to fight one’s own nature in order to override instincts and let others in. There’s so much packed into Owly: Just a Little Blue; suspense, danger, and one of the funniest solutions to a character being trapped that I’ve seen in comics, thanks to an idea from Wormy. When you put it all together, Owly: Just a Little Blue is fun, pure and simple.

The art in Owly: Just a Little Blue is up to Runton’s high standards here. Runton’s characters are beautifully drawn, with a simple attractiveness that can’t help but instantly charm. I love the expressions of Runton’s characters, from Owly’s hopeful look as he tries to help the bluebirds, to Little Blue’s mistrusting face and his accusations toward Owly. Even the minor characters, from the birdseed-chomping chipmunk to the helpful shop raccoon, are all given great personality in their faces and visual design. The storytelling is well handled, too; Runton carefully balances pages full of panels with ones with just a single panel in the middle for emphasis. The end result is a perfectly paced story, from start to finish. It’s a handsome book from start to finish.

I can’t imagine someone not adoring Owly. There’s so much charm and fun and, ultimately, joy in Owly. If you haven’t read Owly before, you’ll quickly see why I thought the first volume was one of the best books of 2004. This new story is just as charming, and it reminded me once again why Runton is very much a creator to watch out for. Fantastic, from start to finish.

Purchase Links: Amazon.com

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