A Home for Mr. Easter

By Brooke A. Allen
200 pages, black and white
Published by NBM

There’s no way around it: A Home for Mr. Easter is one of the strangest comics I’ve seen all year. It’s a book that starts about a girl who’s picked on by her classmates at school as well as her mother, and then transforms into a bizarre chase through the woods involving environmental activists, a lying pet store owner, a failed magician, and the police. And the whole time, it just gets odder and odder as the tone of the book shifts and twists around. For that reason alone, it’s hard to ignore A Home for Mr. Easter.

In the early chapters of A Home for Mr. Easter, Brooke A. Allen plays her cards in a coy manner, not telling us for certain on if Tesana really has found a rabbit that lays multi-colored eggs or if she is hallucinating/imagining the more fantastical parts of her experience. This is after all a loner that’s picked on by almost everyone around her, and the book almost immediately leaps to a nine-page fantasy sequence involving Tesana standing up for herself and then escaping on a unicorn before the world snaps back into reality around her. It’s easy to see Tesana’s imagination running wild again when she first sees a rabbit lay an easter egg, doubly so when it then starts talking to her. It’s not until more characters start seeing the fantastical elements in A Home for Mr. Easter that you start to realize that yes, this is all happening. The book has quietly transformed from a story about a pathetic person unable to handle the real world, into one about a genuine hero trying to help a rabbit that everyone’s trying to get their hands upon. It’s an odd shift, one that might take the reader a little while to fully wrap their head around.

Once you know that all of this is happening, though, it’s actually fun to stop reading the book at that point and start over with that additional knowledge. It comes across as a fun adventure with strange characters and crazy ideas. This is, after all, a graphic novel with a talking rabbit that lays easter eggs that grant wishes. The best thing about A Home for Mr. Easter‘s story, though, isn’t the crazy ideas and the madcap pace that everything unrolls as the book progresses. Rather, it’s Tesana and her relationship with Mr. Easter. Her love for the little talking rabbit will pull at the toughest of heartstrings, quite frankly; Allen absolutely lays on the sweetness with Tesana and her caring for the rabbit, and you start to realize that aside from her mother, Mr. Easter is the first time she’s cared about someone else. If their relationship wasn’t so strongly delivered, I don’t think this book would work nearly as well as it does.

Allen’s art is consistently strong the whole way through the book, and even people who might not like the whimsy and flights of fancy of A Home for Mr. Easter will be hard to ignore Allen’s work here. Allen draws Tesana as a large girl, one who is mocked and teased by the other students at school. What I like, though, is how Allen is able to use that to Tesana’s advantage as the book progresses. Tesana comes across as someone who doesn’t know her own strength, and Allen draws her barreling through crowds and obstacles in a way that feels believable. She’s always got a sweet expression on her face, though, and it keeps Tesana from looking like a brute. Then again, the whole book is a lot of fun visually; Allen’s art feels like a strange cross between Paul Pope and Jim Mahfood, coming across both loose and blocky at the same time, if that makes any sense. It’s a beautiful art style that is able to handle everything from huge chases across the woods to Tesana thanking a horse in a cute way, and I’m entranced.

A Home for Mr. Easter is a strange, shifting book that switches up its tone and potentially tricks its reader at first. It’s a bit of a rambling story, but by the time I was done I had a big smile on my face. Allen’s story has heart, and her art is fantastic. As a first graphic novel, A Home for Mr. Easter is an impressive debut. I definitely look forward to seeing what she has up her sleeves next.

Purchase Links: Amazon.com | Powell’s Books

2 comments to A Home for Mr. Easter