Peppy in the Wild West

Hergé. Fantagraphics, $16.99 (64p) ISBN 978-1-683-96047-8
Apart from its historical importance, this collection of a 1934 serial, in modern context, conforms with its original intent as a comic strip: disposable entertainment. Hergé’s canon, while extolled and influential for its ligne claire (“clear line”) craftsmanship and artistry, has long been under scrutiny for its grossly stereotypical and often offensive depictions of non-white people. Given that history, it’s surprising that the “Rabbit-Ears”—stand-ins for Native Americans in this early career series of funny animal stories set in the American Wild West—are rather anodyne (by the standards of their time) in their depiction. The rabbits act as adversaries for the plucky bear spouses Peppy and Virginny. As Peppy sets up his homestead, the rabbits shoot arrows and kidnap Virginny; one bunny sells weapons to both sides, satirizing the war profiteers in Europe in the lead-up to World War II. The cartooning is charming, in the vein of the rubber-limbed animations of the 1920s and ’30s, though clumsy in comparison to Hergé’s hallmark Adventures of Tintin. This volume is for completist Hergé fans eager to study his early work, or appropriate for parents seeking to introduce their children to his classic style without risking the more problematic material in his catalog. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 01/15/2018
Release date: 09/01/2017
Genre: Comics
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