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Friday, 13 September 2013

Patrick The Wolf Boy: The Giant Size Collection

Written by: Art Baltazar and Franco Aureliani
Drawn by: Art Baltazar
Published by: BlindWolf/Electric Milk Comics

What’s it about?
Patrick The Wolf Boy is the first comic by the creative team of Art Baltazar and Franco, who would go on be the force behind such popular all-ages titles as DC Comics' Tiny Titans,  Billy Batson and the Magic of Shazam! and Superman Family Adventures and behind the upcoming Ity Bitty Hellboy at Dark Horse Comics.

It originally started as a self-published comic book through their own Electric Milk Comics brand, the collective duo and additional assistants being known under the "BlindWolf" name.

Patrick The Wolf Boy is the comic where they started working together. As the title says, it follows the self-titled adventures of a little Wolf Boy. It's very reminiscent of classic newspaper comic strips in the lines of Calvin & Hobbes or Peanuts. Art Baltazar and Franco were really able to get what make those classic characters memorable and timeless. Make the same concept their own and run along with it.
What is good about it?
Like I wrote above, it's a perfect fun little All-Ages title, perfect for young children and nostalgic adults. Through this fictive werewolf boy, they are able to capture the innocence and simplicity of childhood.

(The cast of Patrick The Wolf Boy)

The book follows the everyday life of Patrick. His parents love him and don't really seem to be bothered by his werewolf tendencies and often ignore his werewolf tantrums. Patrick often goes on a whim after little squirrels and other small critters he finds in the garden.
Then there are the episodes that take place at school. With Patrick's friends like the lil' Neve who appears to be the only one to understand Patrick, the school teacher. There's also a screaming pajama neighbor lady who hates Patrick, and slowly are introduced more and more characters and even some other "monster" creatures such as a big foot, the Grimm Reaper (don't worry about him, he's just a natural part of life, he doesn't mean it). But nobody is as mean as the evil bully from the school. That is, if he could really do any harm to Patrick.

Patrick The Wolf Boy originally started as little one-shots, so every issue or so was generally centered around a holiday theme. Such as the Halloween issue, the Valentine's Day issue, the Mother's day issue, etc.

It's a fun well intentioned book.

What is bad about it?
There are a lot of repetition jokes, since it was made to work as standalone issues or give returning readers each new Holiday a new look at some of Patrick's stories. Meaning you always get the same Teacher's jokes at school (everybody bringing an apple, Patrick giving her some random critter, a random object for a pun or, say, an Halloween-themed gift). It just makes on-sitting read through the book a bit repetitive while it was meant to be separated by a whole year in-between.
And, yes, it's a bit more juvenile and childish than Franco and Baltaza's later work on Tiny Titans.. This just means some adults might not enjoy this as much.
But I personally had no problem with this fun "kids book", I really loved the innocence found here, a breath of fresh air in a medium that tends to take itself way too seriously these days.

What’s the art like?
Art Baltazar's signature still really took form on Patrick The Wolf Boy. His unique art style is very approachable and fun to look at. There's also some more ambitious scenes , without breaking the tone, with very interesting panels and inking. It just goes to show how flexible this "simple look" was great for.

Baltazar did the entire art for the series. While Franco (who also draws fantastically) only did the plotting. And some pin-up artwork for some issues. (showing the characters through his style)

The book looks great and should be familiar to fans of Baltazar's later work.

More information
A complete rundown of the entire series can be found at Art Baltazar's website. And for the book reviewed here more precisely:
Patrick the Wolf Boy: The Giant-Size Collection Volume 1 & 2
Self-published, BlindWolf/Electric Milk Comics, 2004, black & white, Trade Paperback.
Priced originally at USD$15.00
ISBN: 0-9749941-0-3

Further reading
The series can be a bit diffuclt to find at the time.
The original Giant-Size editions can usually be found now in bargain bins:
Patrick the Wolf Boy: The Giant-Size Collection Volume 3 & 4 
As you can see from Baltazar's page, the series was then recollected in 2005 by Devil's Due Publishing in 4 distinct digest-sized volumes:
Patrick The Wolf Boy Volume 1 Volume 2 Volume 3 Volume 4
But these were quickly discontinued over the years due to a fallout with DDP.
But fear not, Art Baltazar and Franco are currently working for Dark Horse Comics, so let's cross fingers Dark Horse will be able to reprint the series some time soon.

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