The Barefoot Serpent

    (Top Shelf, 2003)
™ and © 2003 Scott Morse

This book will probably come across as a puzzling, if enjoyable, oddity to most readers, since the intended audience seems to be Morse fans familiar with Japanese filmmaker Akira Kurosawa. Both of them.

Morse’s story is essentially one of hope about a grieving little girl on a family vacation shortly after the death of her older brother, but it’s bookended by a pair of short biographical chapters on Kurosawa’s life and career. Readers will probably miss the connection, which Morse fortunately explains in the book’s afterword. Morse’s intent was to incorporate the same feelings of hope that are apparently prevalent in Kurosawa’s films. This is essentially irrelevant to readers. How well Morse succeeds in evoking the same kind of emotion as Kurosawa remains to be judged by those more familiar with the director’s work. Nonetheless, on its own merits, Morse’s tale evokes feelings of hope and inspiration.

Morse is one of the most versatile creators in comics. From his kid-friendly super-hero parody The Magic Pickle to his sort–of–kid–friendly Southpaw to this more sophisticated graphic novel, Morse has yet to sing the same song twice. Anyone who’s enjoyed his eclectic body of work so far will think no less of this.

— Jim Johnson

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