You don’t have to read much of Sticks Angelica, Folk Hero to ask yourself the question: does Michael DeForge have anything to do with cult kids/hipster tv show, Adventure Time? The answer is (from Season 3 onwards) yes. If you’ve not dabbled with Adventure Time because, say, you don’t have children, or you wouldn’t let your children watch such a kooky show or you’re one of those people who only engage with strictly adult fare (by which we mean, things for grown ups), it’s highly likely Sticks Angelica, Folk Hero is not for you.
Here is a précis of the book, just so you know what you are letting yourself in for: it runs in page to page strip form, with a title at the header (which gives the strip a sense of something classical, the kind of strip you’d find in a newspaper, even though it’s pretty outré for any newspaper). Sticks Angelica is “49 years old, former Olympian, poet, scholar, sculptor, minister, activist, governor general, entrepreneur, line cook, headmistress, mounty, columnist, libertarian, cellist”. The inclusion of such words as ‘libertarian’ tells you that this isn’t quite aimed at children. But you don’t have to read too many strips to get to talking animals, molecules you can pluck from the air, the law of the forest (which separates marked, and therefore huntable, animals from non-marked), mosquitoes engaged in love triangles with geese, infatuated rabbits, moose lawyers and complex backstories involving political corruption. Oh and Michael DeForge himself makes an appearance as a squashed flat local reporter.
How you react to all of that will pretty much determine what you think of the book. If you are open and flexible enough to read a story and see where it takes you without worrying so much about such things as reality or the laws of physics, then it’s highly likely you’ll get along with Sticks Angelica, Folk Hero. It has something of Colin Meloy’s Wildwood about it, something of McSweeney’s, something – as we said – of Adventure Time. Would we like DeForge to take all of the whimsy and strap it to a skyrocket of a narrative? Sure. But that probably tells you more about us than it does about DeForge. Not everybody needs all of that conventional crap, and if you at one of those people, then you’ll get an almighty kick out of this we think.
Any Cop?: Not one of those comics that you’d pass on to your Guardian reading occasional graphic novel reading friends. One for the more (or less!) discerning of comics fans.