cover image Billy Hazelnuts

Billy Hazelnuts

Tony Millionaire, . . Fantagraphics, $19.95 (109pp) ISBN 978-1-56097-701-8

When the mice infesting a woman's kitchen tire of her efforts to rout them, they create a tough guy homunculus from foul-smelling garbage and turn him loose as their protector. Originally possessing a head full of houseflies, the garbage creature is discovered by Becky, a plucky kid scientist who swaps hazelnuts for the houseflies—thus the sobriquet Billy Hazelnuts. Together, they embark on a dreamlike series of adventures. Bolstered by extraordinary artwork reminiscent of woodcuts crafted by a madman, this narrative evokes the anything-goes child-logic found in darker fairy tales and the Oz stories with a pinch of Lewis Carroll thrown in for the sheer bizarreness of it all. Millionaire sweeps the reader along with the protagonists through encounters with a seeing-eye skunk, a search for where the moon disappeared to and a blistering sea battle between a matter-expanded toy replica of Noah's Ark—complete with two-by-two animals at the helm—and a flying pirate ship crewed by robotic buccaneer alligators. Millionaire is known for his dark yet wistful comic strip Maakies with this irresistible cornucopia of unbridled imagination run rampant, he has created a book with the eerie familiarity of a classic children's tale and solidifies his reputation as one of contemporary comic's great visionaries. (Apr.)