Milo's World cover detail, drawn by Christophe Ferreira

Milo’s World v1: The Next Scholastic-Like Favorite?

Writer: Richard Marazano
Artist: Christophe Ferreira
Colorist: Christophe Ferreira
Lettering: Calix Ltd.
Translator: Montana Kane
Published by: Dargaud/Europe Comics
Number of Pages: 59
Original Publication: 2013

 

Milo’s World is another La Nouvelle Manga title (like “Valentine“). Is this the next “Amulet”? Should Scholastic snap this one up immediately? I think so.

Just Go Read It Now

I’m going to lead off with that. This one is strongly recommended. It’s a beautiful book. There are obvious manga/anime stylistic references in it, but it still feels like a Franco-Belgian adventure book. It’s appropriate for kids, but will appeal to everyone.  The title character is a young boy, but he quickly comes up against Vidia, a similarly young girl who proves to be, perhaps, an even stronger character.

Demographically speaking, it’s starting from a strong place.

It’s imaginative, filled with mysteries and a clear backstory that we’ll learn about later, and kid characters who aren’t annoying for being whiney or for being over-confident.

The art and the coloring is non-stop great. Ferreira cuts no corners on this book. There isn’t a background missing. Every panel in the book is set in a specific space. You can see everything around the character. The world is fully realized and sucks you right in.

It’s a fantasy and an adventure. It’s obviously headed to some sort of family heritage or Chosen One kind of story, yes, but there’s a reason those are so popular. Give the people what they want… For ten to fourteen year old kids who haven’t read a thousand variations on that theme yet, this is a title likely to enchant them.

What’s Going On?

Richard Marazano's script sums up the story so far and shows how crazy and outlandish everything is. But who cares? This stuff is fun!

“OK, you saw it.  You saw a golden fish floating in the sky like a sun.  At first, you didn’t recognize him. Then he spoke to you in your head.  Sure.  That happens to everybody…

“The worst part is that now you’re convinced that the telepathic fish too you to stay with me so that I could protect you, which means it won’t be easy getting rid of you.”

Sure, when you put it that way, it sounds ludicrous. But it’s fun!

It’s a bizarre story, but on purpose.  Writer Richard Marazano isn’t just being goofy.  He’s putting together a crazy world that will appeal to children’s imaginations and be delightful for the adults, as well.

It’s the story of a boy, Milo, who’s living on his own in the summer while his Dad is away, working.  Three old ladies in town (the “aunties”) are watching over him, almost like Cinderella’s fairy godmothers.

Milo catches a strange glowing golden fish

One day, while playing in the creek, Milo catches a strange glowing fish.  Meanwhile, not too far away, a frog creature in a hood and robe is carrying around a bag and looking for that strange fish.  The bag carries a kidnapped girl who Milo is destined to meet and have a love/hate affair with.  They need each other, but they can’t stand each other when they’re not busy acting out on their tendencies for isolation and self-sufficiency.

The talking frog creature comes after them, they escape in a daring boat chase, and then wind up — in another place, filled with new kinds of people in a hidden world.

 

Who Are These People?

Milo and Valya are introduced, and things start a little strained

Two kids who want to be on their own, yet would do better working together.

The books keeps moving, introducing plenty of new characters but never so many that it’s overwhelming.  When Marazano adds a new character or creature, there’s a reason for it, and they get a chance to do something and breathe.  It isn’t just a collection of random things, but a series of deliberate choices to populate the world with just enough types of characters to make it interesting for the readers while the major story starts to pick up steam.

There are plenty of mysteries in the book.  Nothing is fully explained.  (That’s what the second volume is for.)  This is all set-up for the larger arc, yet the story in this volume still feels satisfying.  An awful lot went on, and I was never confused by it.  I’m just glad the next three books are available to read right now, so it’s all fresh in my mind.

 

Any Friend of Milo…

Milo is instantly likable. He’s curious and adventurous, but alone.  You feel badly for him because of his absentee father, but you root for him with his new project of taking care of the crazy glowing gold fish.  When the frog creature first approaches him, Milo is quick and inventive in talking his way out of the situation. He’s a scrappy kid.

When he meets up with Valia, their chemistry is immediate.  They’re instantly at odds, but there are sparks whenever they’re together, not necessarily of love (they’re too young anyway), but just of an interesting relationship that you want to see more of.  Whenever they’re together on the page, you know things are going to explode soon.

Things change in a big way in the second half, as the story starts getting closer to the mysteries it obviously started from the very first page of the book. The “mythology” and history of Milo and his family are coming to the fore very quickly.

Things are a bit different on the other side of the lake, but I’m not going to spoil it. Milo is quickly lost in the new world he’s exploring and is slightly overwhelmed, but still running hard to catch up, metaphorically and (on one or two occasions) literally.

 

The Manga/Anime Art of Milo’s World

Milo's World has manga-like art. Look, there's speedlines!

Christophe Ferreira has an interesting story in his biography. To sum it up: He learned to draw by copying comics and cartoons. He went to school in France for animation. Eventually, he moved to Japan to be an illustrator there. “Akira,” of course, was heavily influential on him.

That explains everything about the art in this book.  The storytelling feels like a fine Franco-Belgian adventure book, but the visuals are clearly influenced by Japanese animation and comics. I see a bit of Miyazaki in this book, particularly with the frog-like character in the cloak.  Little bits of manga storytelling emerge, like the speedlines and some of the character’s action poses and facial expressions.

The coloring is beautiful.  There are a lot of textures and patterns and details getting attention.  It looks almost watercolored in spots, but I’m sure that’s just some digital texturing.

The colors and acting on Milo's World are on display in this sequence.

I like the acting in this sequence, and the coloring: the yellow glow, the textures in the background, etc.

Ferreira’s color schemes can land on the dark side at times, which threatens to muddy up the art.  In a digital presentation, that’s not too much of a problem. You can always increase the brightness of your screen. I can’t imagine it fares too well in print.  Most of the book is clear as a bell, but there are sequences where he paints the whole scene in shades of blue that might take your eye an extra second to pick all the details out of.

Ferreira isn’t afraid to use Photoshop, either.  He has reflections that are, no doubt, caused by a flip of some digital art and then a filter.  It doesn’t come off as gimmicky and showy to me, though, ask it so often does. He uses it just enough to make it effective without being attention-grabbing.

Recommended?

Milo's World v1 cover, drawn by Christophe Ferreira

Yes. If you want to read something that’s slightly warped, beautifully drawn and colored, and creative, this is a good book for you. If you like books like “Bone” and “Amulet,” you might just like this. The story and characters are interesting, and the visuals pull you right in.

There are five volumes available in French. This first story in this series concludes in volume 2, which I’ll be reviewing in the days ahead…

The fifth book just came out last week, as of this writing.  Four of the books are available in English today.  I’m in for this series. I’m excited to see more of the art, and hope to see more of the sparks flying between Milo and Valia.

— 2018.004 —

 

Buy It Now

On sale at the Kindle store for only $1.99 right now:

Buy this book on Amazon Click here to buy digital BD comics albums through Izneo.com  Buy this book on Comixology

Izneo.com Preview

 

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