From the stack: Salt Water Taffy: A Climb up Mt. Barnabas

December 11, 2008

If I was a sufficiently good person, I would donate my copy of Matthew Loux’s Salt Water Taffy: A Climb up Mt. Barnabas (Oni Press) to the local library so that area schoolchildren could take in its many charms and borrow it to the point of decay, as I know they would. I’m not that good a person, so I’m keeping it for myself.

The first volume of this series was easily one of the most delightful comics discoveries of the year. The second is just a bit better in that Loux’s storytelling is a bit more confident, and his absurd sense of humor has a bit freer reign. Having established that weird things happen in the seaside hamlet of Chowder Bay, Loux can dive into new weirdness faster and take it a little farther.

This time around, Jack and Benny Putnam have put their father on the defensive with their hero-worship of Angus an old, Chowder Bay salt with his finger on the pulse of local lore (because he was there for most of it). Dad tells a whopper, and the kids are duly impressed. They’re so impressed that they decide to reenact Dad’s adventure.

What follows involves a perilous climb up the titular peak, a sneaky wolf, improbable headwear, and lots of other engaging stuff. It also involves snappy dialogue, nifty characterization, charmingly loopy art, brisk pacing… pretty much everything you could ask for in a funny adventure comic. There really isn’t a panel wasted.

So no, I’m not going to share my Taffy. Maybe I’ll change my mind if Oni publishes a handsome, hardcover omnibus like they did with Scott Chantler’s Northwest Passage, but until that day comes, the local youngsters are on their own.

(Here’s a preview at Comic Book Resources, along with a review by Greg McElhatton and an interview with Loux.)