When I went to SPX this year I was hoping to pick up Braden Lamb’s and Shelli Paroline’s newest minicomic Life on Triton. Unfortunately I was informed that the mini wasn’t complete in time for the show, and although that bummed me out the two did have a lot of other cool stuff for sale, and I decided to give their previous mini The Potter’s Pet a spin. Although the story I found wasn’t by itself all that extraordinary, I still enjoyed myself immensely given Lamb’s and Paroline’s elegant cartooning. The story, like I said, isn’t that groundbreaking, as it follows a potter in ancient times trying to sell his wares with little luck, until one day he stumbles upon instructions to create a homunculus that can be designed to do any number of tasks. However, what starts as something to just keep the potter entertained ultimately becomes a comedy of errors as seemingly everyone wants a piece of the potter’s newest invention and trying to keep everyone happy becomes a job unto itself.
Overall there was nothing wrong with the writing. The plot is a simple cautionary tale about how trying to please everyone will ultimately please no one, although I did find it kind of annoying that the potter’s ability to create a homunculus, which in the context of the story we’re lead to believe is a pretty rare ability, doesn’t come from an innate ability on the potter’s part but due to a macguffin in the form of just finding some schematics on how to build them on the floor of his shop. That being said, with only twenty-two pages it’s probably pretty smart on Lamb’s and Paroline’s part from an economic storytelling stand point to just get to the meat of the story without any unnecessary expository information on how we got there, and I can respect that.
Their art is so defined that not only do they convey a setting that feels like an ancient Arabic village and give each character a unique visual presence but they do it all in such a way that’s so accessible that I couldn’t help think of Disney’s “Aladdin”, and not because that’s the only animated movie with an Arabic setting I can think of either, but that it is a great strength for any kind of comic to have. When I say the art being defined, I mean that although you just get glimpses here and there, the world feels very fleshed out, it feels whole even though we’re only seeing parts. Speaking of parts, the real treat concerning the art is how the creators go about showing the evolution of the homunculus. The thing starts out simply enough as just a little box that tap dances on the counter but as the potter realizes that he can make some money off his creation he starts to destroy and build the homunculus up again for bigger and bigger tasks. The way they construct each “upgrade” resembles how someone would build up something using Legos; using a solid base, but the more stuff you put onto it the bigger it gets, until it keeps growing up and outwards to the point where you can still sort of see the small parts that first defined it in the beginning. Those are in turn overshadowed by the hulking and almost monstrous conclusion. How Lamb and Paroline show that slow gradual transformation, and the underlying message of that transformation reperesents really makes this a book worth checking out.
TL;DR: Although the actual story may be simple, elegant art and a strong underlying message make this a book that you should definitely check out.
The Potter’s Pet was created by Braden D. Lamb and Shelli Paroline. Make sure to pick up a copy if you ever see them at a convention and for more of their work check out the monthly Adventure Time comic book.