By John Layman, Sam Kieth, and Ronda Pattison
Eleanor & The Egret is one of those comics where the content is as peculiar as its title – one has no idea what to expect. This is especially the case when the co-creators of series Chew and The Maxx are the ones responsible for a new book. This outlandish title focuses on the titular characters, the complicated, yet oddly charming thief, Eleanor, and her magical talking egret, Ellis. The plot is fairly straightforward, at least for the moment, where Eleanor and her avian accomplice have stolen a piece of fine art and a game of cat and mouse ensues between them and Detective Belanger.
This is definitely one of the more fresh and whimsical comics published today. John Layman has said that he wanted to do something a little lighter after Chew. Eleanor & The Egret is different in that respect, but has traces of the sarcastic humor that Layman used so well in his previous series. To be honest, there isn’t much to write home about in terms of the narrative, it’s the charm and mystery of the characters and art that will win over readers. The Adventures of Tintin and The Pink Panther come to mind when reading this book. It may have crime, but there is levity and the material never takes itself too seriously, except for Detective Belanger and the police chief, which only adds to the off-beat humor.
From the page layouts and panel outlines to the disproportionate figures of the characters, to the obvious reference to La Tournée du Chat Noir de Rodolphe Salis, the European influences continue in the artwork with the art nouveau style being a clear inspiration. Sam Kieth is well suited to the art style and implements it interestingly well with a constant use of free-flowing and sharp curves and lines. How he depicts Eleanor in different moments in the comic are worth noting particularly. It furthers a concept Layman presents about the various identities of the crafty heroine. There are some wide shot panels where the finer details are lacking, but that’s part of Keith’s style and fans of his will recognize a lot of his form in this work and will feel at home. Colorist Ronda Pattison, who has done amazing work at IDW Publishing, brings her talents to this book. She expertly handles watercolor-esque coloring and clean, detailed character work. Sam Kieth really allows her to show off her talents in various forms. Pattison’s use of yellow and gold hues as motifs are another element worthy of attention.
This comic won’t exactly be of everyone’s cup of tea, but it’s hard not to appreciate it. The goal of the creative team was to do something that stretched different parts of their creative brains and talents and they accomplished that. Aftershock has a novel title on their hands with bold creators at the helm. Fans of of John Layman and Sam Kieth may be in for a bit of a culture shock at first, but, after a few pages in, they’ll slip into Eleanor & The Egret’s groove. It’s worth checking out, if you’re looking for a light, entertaining read!