Wednesday, 5 August 2015

The Adventures of Venus by Gilbert Hernandez Review

Venus is a young (10 year old?) girl who likes playing football, plotting against her rival Glinda Gonzalez for the attentions of local dreamboat Miguel Mendoza (who only has eyes for Venus’ curvy mum), and various things little girls do, like going into a garden maze to visit Frankenstein’s grave(!).

The Adventures of Venus collects Gilbert Hernandez’s various playful strips about Venus in one book. Like his other, more adult Palomar books, Hernandez’s stories contain magical elements (the blooter baby returns!), humour (Venus and Glinda’s rivalry), and quirkiness (the dropped cookie story), that are well put-together via small, but effective, four-panel pages.

Venus herself is a great protagonist, Venus’ (wrestler?) single mum is awesome, the football match story is great, and little scenes here and there are cute. Like when she decides to make a comic to help her lil sis Marie read and then realises how tough it is to actually create a comic!

Quite a few stories though are very so-so and forgettable, like the fig picker story and the fantasy sci-fi/dream sequence (though I liked how the sequence included numerous cameos from indie artists like Jim Woodring, Lewis Trondheim and even Gilbert’s brothers!). A number are non-stories with Venus thinking to herself about whatever.

I get the impression this is aimed at younger readers but it’s a bit too “indie comics” for that audience (lack of colour/too much introspection) and it’s a bit too light/kiddie-ish for Gilbert’s older readers. The Adventures of Venus is very middle of the road but Gilbert’s such a good cartoonist (he really is the best of the Hernandez brothers), even something small like this book isn’t a waste of time. That said this isn’t a must-read even for fans of Gilbert Hernandez.

The Adventures of Venus

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