cover image Animal Stories

Animal Stories

Peter Hoey and Maria Hoey. Top Shelf, $19.99 trade paper (176p) ISBN 978-1-60309-502-0

The Hoeys, the Eisner-nominated brother-and-sister team behind the Coin-Op series, present a delightfully strange collection of linked stories pondering just how little people truly know about animals. Each tale is based on an initially mundane animal-human interaction that pivots into more unreal, ominous territory drawing more from noir, the Bible, and The Twilight Zone than cozily reassuring pet tales. Some setups are constructed around mysteries: a schoolgirl who tends pigeons on her building’s roof starts getting alluring messages in “ghostly cursive” delivered by a bird with obscure origins; a man wonders where his cat disappears to over days and nights. Others have benign premises (a park groundskeeper is annoyed a couple lets their dog off the leash) but take wild turns (the park may actually be the Garden of Eden). The twists range from straight comedy (the dog who turns out to be the president of the United States) to eerie iterations of animal autonomy (the bird who refuses “to play the fool, whistling and begging for crackers”). The precise and brightly colored art has a blocky clarity that renders the characters like avatars in a simulation game, suggesting behind-the-scenes manipulations. This thought-provoking graphic story collection shines with curious humor found in unexpected connections. (Jan.)