3 out of 5
Magpie World builds to a peak series of insane settings shifts in its latter half, at which point the wildness of it becomes intensely enjoyable, but getting into its mindset – which is completely removed from any sense of recognizable genre pinnings – takes more time than it should, and I suspect that unfortunate translation woes (the book being in English; the publisher and writers Spanish) are part of what affects both of those qualities. Meaning: it’s hard to get in to because of the stutteringly applied language; the latter bits seem crazier than they perhaps are due to the same. The book’s last panel “moral” statement seems to suggest that that’s very much the case, as I got a big ol’ questionmark as to how it’s supposed to be applied.
That’s half-compliment, half slap in the face, and neither very direct, I suppose, so here’s some clear praise: artist Guillermo Monje’s art is unique and exciting, combining the looseness of Steven Weissman with figurework and detailing vaguely reminiscent of Andrew Maclean, but emerging from that swirling of influence with something very much his own. Boom! Kids comics fans will likely appreciate this stuff, but it’s much more surreal than whats in their output, as lead Alex bounces from land to land stuffed with a unique beastiary of discoveries (with a handy reference in the back for more details on them creatures). The colors, also presumably Monje, are gorgeous: warm, distinct, and instantly informing of the various settings our lead finds himself in, really glowingly produced by Sallybooks.
The story is rather as open-ended as my one or two sentences have suggested: Alex is chilling with friends, and then climbs high up and gets blown to another land by a strong gust of wind. The wind plagues him thereafter, taking him to various other locations, each proving their own oddball characters and interests and dangers. The hiccupy English makes it hard to get a grasp on the tone, but once we’re in the second setting, you allow yourself to go with the flow and it’s a grand ol’ time.