4 out of 5
Oh lawdy, this is a wonderfully crowded 100 pages of story mish-mash, which, as is typical of writer / artist Doug TenNapel, overcomes its jumbled shortcuts and shortcomings by just being a heck of a bunch of fun, and by looking fantastic, and by embodying 100% imagination. Bigfoot Bill’s central setup is one of Doug’s more cracked ideas, starting out with a nice setup – the government has a secret facility storing and monitoring cryptids, one of which is the homely, and constantly escaping bigfoot named Bill – and then it gets a little weird with its mythology, roping in gods under the cryptid banner, by way of Poseidon, and then goes full bore crazy when Poseidon’s pet Krakken is magically bonded to Bill and becomes a skin-suit for him, with Spider-Man like thwippy powers via his tentacles. Also, Bill gets lightning powers, ’cause why not.
It’s a hoot, of course, with Bill one of Doug’s usual driven innocents – a la Earthworm Jim – on his quest to find a family he believes is still out there, but waylaid in the book’s latter half by the bad news machinations of another escaped cryptid, the mothman of the subtitle. Just as with the mix between folklore and mythology feels a little clunky, the way Mothman’s powers assert themselves are some loose, moderately senseless mash-up of moths being attracted to light, and Mothman sucking up people’s shadows, or something, but again, Doug is able to push through this just by prioritizing great artwork, and a constant sense of excitement and joy. Regarding the art, this may be some of the best work Doug has done to date, with a greater sense of consistency and detail than previously, while still maintaining his wondrous energy. The colors, from Kelsey Shannon, Katherine Garner, Dirk Erik Schulz and Radka Kavalcova are a fantastic complement, making literally every page pinup worthy, even when it’s just Bill chatting with his handler, Beckner. All of it wrapped in a most handsome hardcover package, as designed by Joe Potter.