3 out of 5
So Dan Berger created a magical gingerbread man who earned his keep, initially, clearin’ out the gut-pits for some sorcerer – wallowing in those guts, if you will – and thus was deemed the does-not-roll-off-the-tongue-easily ‘Gutwallow,’ probably because Gutswallow (how I keep hearing it in my head) sounds moderately dirty. Combine that title confusion with the subtitle of this trade and Dan’s history of light-hearted Turtles fare and the buxom babes on the cover and you might assume this to be some kind of humorous niche erotica. It’s not. No, instead, Dan took his character – who, as indicated by a first-appearance mini-comic that was reprinted in this collection, started in that light-hearted vein – and in the wake of 9-11, wrote 3 issues for Digital Webbing that, according to Dan’s ‘behind the scenes’ notes after each issue, were intended as a none-too-subtle response to that event. Told that, sure, it’s not too subtle, with a race of (ahem) Furries – fox people – targeted for mass genocide by a boisterous group of humans who report to a hooded and mysterious wizard, resulting in the lone survivor, Buxom Fox Babe (not her name in the comic, don’t be confused) retrieving the ‘Cannonball of Vast Annihilation’ to be used to wipe out, en masse, them perpetrators. There’s a couple panels dedicated to the purposelessness of retaliation, and an ending that shows the results of violent living.
But whatever. Not told that, you really wouldn’t see the tale as too much different from a standard fantasy shindig, and it’s far from preachy. The only part of it that gets eye-rolly is Dan underlining several times that the book was meant to be serious, because his art style in general is rather embellished and comical and he’d already established the look of the Gutwallow characters to support that. So it’s hard to take a gingerbread man and chain-mail wearin’ lady friend as characters in a social commentary. To Dan’s credit, he seems like such a nice, genuine dude and he says he was encouraged to write the back-up bits by Digital Webbing, so that is what it is. There’s enough story touches to make the book fun to read, despite its essential simplicity , and Dan’s art style is incredibly confident and masterfully, boldly inked, which stands out really well on the stark white paper stock of the trade, even though the binding is wicked cheap. He carried over some panel shuffling from his Turtles pals; it works in some places, others it’s easy to read out of order. And Peter Laird did the lettering; perfectly symmetrical and easy on the eyes.
For a cheap price you get the three issue series, that mini-comic, a never-before-published strip/ad, a brand new epilogue to the Furry story, and another short from an older trade – all a pretty fine deal. There are some leftovers in the story I would’ve preferred Dan to have expanded upon, but maybe that happens else-book-where, I dunno. All in all, a nice filler read, enjoyable despite the intended commentary.