When I originally was considering what to write about for my Friday Recommendation this week, as per usual many, many ideas popped into my head. However, I decided to go with the most unlikely option – Karl Kerschl’s brilliant (and Eisner nominated) web comic The Abominable Charles Christopher. I had not heard of it until recently when a regular member of a music forum I frequent posted about it, and I was immediately hooked. In one sitting, I poured through all two plus years of this (mostly) weekly comic and I think if you checked it out you would find it almost impossible to not do the same.
The Abominable Charles Christopher follows a yeti-like creature named Charles Christopher in his adventures across a forested land. Charles never speaks, is seemingly perpetually confused or scared, and mostly gets himself into bizarre situations in which the other forest animals are forced to react to his odd and innocent behavior. There is an overarching story about a grand destiny for Charles that involves various animal gods, encroaching human cities, and a Moon Bear, but Kerschl is revealing these bits very slowly.
It works quite well however, as he interweaves the more serious plot heavy moments with truly hysterical ones featuring the incredibly talkative creatures in the forest (particulary anything involving small birds, bees, or skunks). It allows him to progress the story without bogging it down with pure seriousness and also gives him the ability to develop the forest almost as a living, breathing organism in its own right. The supporting cast, particularly Charles’ early partner-in-crime, the wolf named Townsend, are superb and frequently genuinely funny. Kerschl’s writing is simple but powerful and each edition exists as standalone comics as well as they do within the overarching stories. It makes the comic remarkably easy to pick up from any point, but I highly recommend to start with the beginning (obviously).
Kerschl’s art is the real tour de force here though, giving us a monochrome art style that is cartoony without being overtly so, imbuing the animals with life without anthropomorphizing them, and creating truly funny, original, and touching editions sometimes without even having a single word of dialogue. His style is incredibly expressive, and his ability to render characters emotions without words is uncanny. I’ve always known him to be a good artist, but reading this comic really makes me realize how exceptional he truly is.
Right now this comic only exists in web form, but Kerschl has suggested in the past that he will likely release this in graphic novel form once he develops enough material to make a release of that sort a worthwhile venture. What isn’t in doubt, however, is whether or not experiencing this title is one. Wholly recommended by yours truly, and while you’re visiting him make sure to support with donations. Free comics should not be this good, so show your love by supporting this venture. You likely won’t find a single comic as joyful as this one anywhere (as you can tell by the second image linked to in this post).