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Just a Little Blue

(Top Shelf Productions; US: Mar 2005)

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Owly, the smile-inducing oval owl, has returned in his second graphic novel volume, Just A Little Blue. For you unfortunate souls who are unfamiliar with our adorable title character, pay close attention.

Like an unexpected surprise or a beautiful day off, Owly is the perfect way to bring a smile to any reader’s face. Told without dialogue but with an abundance of expression, heart and truth, Just A Little Blue is perfect for all ages. Cute little Owly is a simply drawn character with the expressionistic warmth of such classic characters as Winnie The Pooh and Mickey Mouse. I can’t think of many other comparisons (especially these days) because Owly never has “bite” like a Peanuts, Opus or Garfield. Owly just wants to be helpful and nice. In today’s dog-eat-dog society, that’s a refreshing way to be. It’s especially appealing to those of us who feel jaded and disillusioned with the modern world.

Owly is a happy and friendly creature that, along with his hungry worm friend, sacrifices his own possessions to help out a friend that the pair haven’t even met, like an animal-based Habitat For Humanity. Not everything is perfect in Owly’s world. (S)he has to deal with misconceptions and mistrust that we can all empathize with. Owly can’t help but take these personally and is troubled with why someone wouldn’t accept help, but never acts out in a hurtful or malicious retaliation. The conclusion feels genuine and doesn’t resort to the sort of sappiness that one usually gets in stories, especially children’s stories, that are written down to an audience. The pleasure of this book is the story itself, experiencing the world with and through Owly, so my further expounding would disappoint the curious reader.

Andy Runton’s website is a nice primer on Owly and includes some artwork for the new reader to get a feel for the character. After my somewhat harsh review on the weak spine production defect on the first Owly book, the self-published The Bittersweet Summer, my guilt made me check out Andy’s website and I found some great products. Among other items, Runton offers inexpensive prints with original Owly artwork, a nice treat for collectors, whether they are adults or children. The self-published book has now been reprinted as The Way Home & The Bittersweet Summer by Top Shelf Productions with a nice, supple spine, and features a second story, as the title indicates. Andy’s website also features the Free Comic Book Day story Splashin’ Around which one can read in its entirety. It is another great opportunity for new reader’s to see how fun Owly is.

If you or someone you care about isn’t having the best of days, Andy Runton’s charmingly simplistic, yet wonderfully expressive characters will enchant and brighten up even the gloomiest of days. With a world rife with rude, snarky and inconsiderate people, it’s nice to know that the lessons of kindness, charity and forgiveness can be shown without a sarcastic, harsh tone and in such a charming and entertaining fashion. I eagerly await the next adventure of Owly, Flying Lessons, coming this September.

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