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Baobab inaugurates Fantagraphics Books’ slowly-paced Ignatz series (See also Insomnia and The Innocents) with two stories, one about a boy in a rainy Japanese village and the other about a pair adult siblings living in South America. At first blush, the two storylines appear to have nothing in common besides being set in 1910. The ongoing narratives purportedly interlock into a greater whole as series evolves and the narratives converge.
One story in Baobab centers on Hiroshi, a Japanese boy who coaxes the adults in his village to reveal events that took place before he was born. In one scene, a neighbor recounts the loss of her son, and in another Hiroshi’s ailing grandmother tells him about her travels to Africa to see the giant baobab tree.
Eccentric siblings Celestino and Gilla Villarosa take up the remainder of Baobab. Celestino pencils obtuse comic strips for a struggling newspaper on a South American banana plantation. Celestino’s editor encourages Celestino to write more accessible comics—a sentiment readers of this dry, elliptical series will doubtless understand.
Where it’s all heading seems purposefully difficult to discern. Patience and determination will be needed to see it through as the early books reveal not even the vaguest outlines of a master plan.
— Leland Burrill
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