The Book of Jack (Humanoids HC edition) – Denis-Pierre Filippi

3 out of 5

Rough around the edges and certainly limited in scope, The Book of Jack plays out like a Don Bluth 80s animated feature – which is a good thing in my book – but certainly suffers from the oddities of translation woes.

A troupe of street scoundrels dare Jack to raid an old, abandoned mansion and bring back some goods; he gets spooked, but manages to bring back a book.  Which, it turns out, is writing his life story, up to the current moment.  When some rivalries within the group bubble up, the book is stolen and has new events being written into it as a form of revenge…

The Book of Jack works almost completely off of tropes.  The old mansion is never given a background, nor are any of the featured kids beyond showing us that Jack is humble, Samantha is kind, and Stanley is mean, etc.  We’re assuming everything, which seems fine by writer Filippi, as the focus is absolutely on the book and the fantasy of it woven thereafter.  The miniature troubles and scuffles that occur thereafter are the things of classic animation – battles taking place in shadow; true heart of the hero outshines a frightening external appearance; etc.  Artist O.G. Boiscommun has an expressive sense of design, and the book certainly fits with the generally detailed sense of design common to Humanoids, but pacing and framing feel a little at odd with the translations sometimes, or cues – reacting to something – seem off, as though we are actually looking at animated screen caps and not something designed as a comic.

But at only 50 pages, there’s not enough room for it to go too far off map.  Although it’s rather shallow overall, the zoomed in focus on the book and a particular tribulation it caused is entertaining stuff, and quite appealingly cinematic in the oversized Humanoids HC format.