Tiger! Tiger! Tiger! Volume One hardcover graphic novel
Writer/Artist/Cover artist: Scott Morse
Publisher: Red Window/AdHouse Books
Price: $14.95 US
I’ve been a fan of Scott Morse’s work — both creator-owned (such as Ancient Joe) and work for hire (Batman: Room Full of Strangers) — for several years now. I’ve missed a couple of his more recent efforts because the smaller hardcover books struck me as being a bit too expensive. Such is not the case with Tiger! Tiger! Tiger!. this oversized hardcover is well worth the marked price and more. Morse brings his usual surreal but cute style to bear once again, but this time, there’s a much more personal and revealing tone to his work, The creator exposes himself, sharing his hears, insecurities and hopes with his audience, and his unique art instills a magical quality to his heartfelt emotions and the mundane backdrop of the real world.
It takes a certain degree of confidence and ego to be an artist of any stripe as one has to believe that one’s creations merit an audience. But artist Scott Morse reveals that he often feels as lost as the rest of us. He’s struggling to live a good life, to be a good father. The world around him and the people in it can be frustrating, even infuriating, but when he pauses, he can see the wonder in the quieter, everyday moments as well.
Morse’s style is essentially a convergence of simple shapes and lines — just look at the tiger icons on the bookplate before the title page. That amalgam of that achieves a textured, resonant and evocative result. His designs are cartoony, but the colors bring a mature tone to bear. His art boasts a clearly deliberate, meticulous approach. One can tell he’s made choices in terms of line placement, color and strokes carefully. I love how he uses slightly brighter tones to separate his tiger persona (and the feline form of his child) from the real world and the other people populating the story. A visual highlight of the book is his tiger’s transformation from an adorable, innocent figure into a fierce protector. The anger and darkness of that moment is perfectly represented, and it makes for a stark contrast with everything else in the book. Morse’s lettering style reflects the dominant tone of innocence, a tone that’s quickly established by the creator’s choice of a cute tiger avatar to represent himself in the story.
Innocence is a vital component of this book. Morse portrays himself as a cute little animal to convey that innocence, and the reason seems to me is that he wants us to see that he still feels like a child in the world. He’s making things up as he goes along and doesn’t fully understand how it all works. At the same time, that child-like perspective is a blessing, as it allows him to see beauty in the simpler things. The ultimate point of the book seems to be that innocence is an inherent component of creativity. The point is made more subtly in the earlier part of the book, but the final few pages serves as Morse’s overt statement on the issue. It’s almost a manifesto, but really, it’s a promise from a man to his son as well as a note of encouragement from the father to himself. 10/10
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