by Sam Kusek
Writer's block, or really any kind of creative blockage, is one of the most frustrating hurdles to overcome when it comes to being an artist. No one knows this better than Charlie, a young white mouse, living as an independent writer and musician, in his small attic apartment in the big city. While Charlie relishes in the fact that living alone gives him the solitude and temporal freedom he needs to feel creative, he is beginning to hit that creative block we all do and starts to question exactly what he is trying to create.
Bubbles & Gondola tackles a topic that is extremely related to all creative types and I believe that it does a wonderful job at providing non drug, non abusive methods for overcoming the physical and mental limits of our human body that all too often drain our creative souls. At the beginning, Charlie is a stubborn artist who deals with his issues poorly, by over thinking them and hiding himself away from others. With the intrusion of several characters, Charlie is thrown out into a fantastic and loving world around him. Bubbles & Gondola holds onto that very inspiring message dearly throughout the book, that it is ok to let ourselves take a break every once and again and that input of experiences are just as integral as output.
Artistically, the book is very beautifully drawn, with a very whimsical style that I would liken to a less creepy Nightmare Before Christmas. The buildings are wobbly and wonderful, giving the entire city Charlie lives in a very dreamlike aura. Actually, most of this book is very dreamlike, as Charlie hyper analyzes his experiences and starts to create fantastic and often ludicrous worlds and situations out of them. A full wastebasket becomes a fight with his own creative identity, a ride on a gondola becomes cloud surfing; Charlie’s creative energy and mind is in there, struggling to get out through any medium it can.
While the art is certainly the high point of this book, it does create a confusing dynamic where you aren’t able to tell what type of readers this story is intended for. While all the animals are adorable anthropomorphic animals, which at first glance makes Bubbles & Gondola look like a children’s book, the characters are seen smoking and drinking on several different panels. I certainly don’t have a problem with it but can’t you imagine more parents getting up in arms over something like this?
TL;DR All in all, Bubbles & Gondola is a quick, charming read that gets to the point and unwaveringly sticks with its message throughout. Though billed as an all-ages tale, I would definitely recommend it to an older crowd who are heavily involved in the creative arts.
Bubbles & Gondola is written and illustrated by French talent, Renaud Dillies and published by NBM Publishing's Comics Lit line. You can ask for it at your local comic book shop or support Spandexless by buying it in our web store.
A review copy of Bubbles & Gondola was graciously provided to Spandexless by the publisher.
Samuel “Self Confidence Skeleton” “Big Ol’ Robot” Kusek has always been an advocate for the comic book format and specifically a big fan of Manga. He previously wrote for Popcultureshock’s Manga Recon, is an aspiring cartoonist himself and enjoys a good bowtie. You can find his tweets at @SamKusek.