If you associate Peter Morey’s name with the hard-hitting and earnest autobio comics like Endswell or with his psychogeographical zines then his new comic Animal Spirits will come as something of a surprise. It’s a complete change of pace for the London-based small presser but one that shows a willingness to experiment and try his hand at different storytelling styles. That’s always a pleasing thing to see as artists build up their self-published portfolios.
The story first introduces us to Sharktopia resident, and royal family member, Sweet Sea Princess. Looking to avoid the responsibilities of the kingdom Sweet Sea Princess accepts a request for help from her canine friend Handsome Land-Prince and his enchanted dog clan. Travelling to the surface world in her bionic land-fin armour she teams up with this group of samurai dog warriors to take on the evil two-legged apes from the human world. Waiting in the wings, though, are some very familiar and contemporary faces…
What really grabs the attention here is Morey’s use of comics storytelling tools in such inventive and clever ways. I particularly liked this merging of speech balloon styles (below) as Sweet Sea-Princess and Handsome Land-Prince are reunited. Indeed Morey employs lettering tricks to great effect throughout in order to enhance both the fight sequences and the overtly humorous scenes. The square-sized pages also force Morey to think about an alternate approach to page composition and he uses that format effectively with the more frequent four-panel pages breaking out into occasional full-page shots for dramatic emphasis.
While the anthropomorphic animals set-up and animated cartooning initially leads you to believe that this an offering for the younger reader it’s anything but. This is certainly a comic for an adult audience with lots of slapstick ultra-violence and some unlikely political satire thrown into the mix for good measure. That of course poses the question of who the book is aimed at in terms of a target readership. If you’re looking for the profound and intense drama of Endswell you’re certainly not going to find it here but if you’re looking for a diverting piece of escapism with some neat comic set pieces and strongly choreographed action sequences then Animal Spirits will certainly prove a distracting and fun read!
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Review by Andy Oliver