Kid Firechief, The

Posted: Tuesday, October 26, 2004
By: Amos Simien

Creator(s): Steven Weissman
Publishers: Fantagraphics Books
From: USA
Price: $12.95 (US)

Ostensibly a trade paperback collection or graphic novel, The Kid Firechief is almost certainly a 96-page comic book. The small (4.95 x 7.80) book collects Steven Weissman's short tales about the world's greatest firefighter, Olaf Oedwards, a.k.a 'Kid Firechief'. All told, ten whimsical tales fill this volume.

Weissman's stories are childlike and fantastic; in terms of fantasy literature, the stories are subject to the kind of flights of whimsy found in L. Frank Baum, or, in the work of the comic book artist/creator to whom Weissman is sometimes compared, John Stanley, best known for his Little Lulu comics. The truth is that Weissman's Kid Firechief is probably closer to DC's late Golden Age and early Silver Age comics, especially titles like World's Finest and Superman's Girl Friend...Lois Lane.

Some of the stories, like 'Nero Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus,' in which the Kid takes a time trip to mid first century A.D./C.E. Rome to fight the infamous blaze of Nero's burning of Rome, is an absolute delight. It's simply told, but like a child's imagination, it flits from one fantastic element to another without a thought for logic. A few others, like 'The Story of the Century' are darker, not as fun, but certainly age appropriate for younger readers.

Some have also compared Weissman's approach to his young characters and to his cartooning to that of Charles M. Schulz, and that isn't exactly PR bluster. It doesn't take much effort to see Steven Weissman on the same newspaper comics page as the late Peanuts creator. His art and tales are perfect for children, but like the late Mr. Schulz's comics, Weissman flirts with the comical and the serious and with joy and melancholy. Thus, it's a shame that this talent is relegated to the ghetto of American comics distribution and sales. Like James Robinson and Paul Smith's Leave it to Chance, The Kid Firechief deserves a wider audience.

In a Word: hot

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