Monday, August 09, 2010

Three Fingers – A Review

Three Fingers

Publisher Top Shelf Productions

Writer/Artist/Creator Rich Koslowski

Format 134 Pages of Story and Art

Price - $15

So a few years ago Lee and I are at Balti-Con and he tells me to buy this book and have the creator sign it and get a sketch from him. The book has a retail price of $15 and Lee can be persistent and annoying. Dispute the fact that I had yet to learn to trust or at least be able to decipher what stuff Lee likes I will like I acquiesced and got the book. There it has sat on a shelf in different spots over the ensuing years.

I’m never sure what impulse pushes me to read book A over book B when I have some extra time in my reading, but I was going to read the Torpedo Volume 1, but instead decided to read this book.

I went in only knowing that this was a book about why cartoon characters have three fingers as opposed to four. It is such a minor point that I thought it might be amusing but was unprepared for the actual contents.

Rich Koslowski has turned the story into a mocumentary of cartoon history via Jessica Rabbit. Archibald the Aardvark by Grant Bond and friends is a similar approach to cartoons and I’m not sure why but it is very funny to think of these characters as real. Recently the animated feature Bolt did a good job with a dog who thought his super powers were real once he got lost from the TV studio he slowly learned they weren’t. It is all in that same bent. Koslowski made this premise work very well and at times the book even had a noir vibe to it.

The short story is Dizzy Walters and Rickey Rat met each other through a chance encounter when Dizzy was down on his luck and drinking. Dizzy goes to the seedy side of town where the “toons” live and walks into a Toon Bar and discovers Rickey. They become friends and Dizzy makes a movie with Rickey on Dizzy’s last dime. “Railroad Rickey” is a smash success. Everyone tries to duplicate his success and fails until they start to use other three fingered toons.
The premise is Rickey was born with a genetic defect and only had three fingers and a thumb. It become a superstitious belief that only three fingered toons could be a success and soon toons were getting operated on to have only three fingers. The scandal about self mutilation in order to achieve success was one that rocked the nation.

The story winds its way through out the history of cartoons and the history of the nation. The format of the story telling is like a pure documentary style. We have the sit down interviews with various people who knew Dizzy and/or know Rickey. We have Rickey’s interview inter-spliced throughout the entire book.

It is a fun read, slightly illuminating regarding some of the history of Walt Disney, Warner Brothers and Mickey Mouse and just an extraordinary well done book. I feel bad that I never got around to reading this before now but it is well worth your time and you can buy the book direct from Rich Koslowski here. Hindsight being 20/20 I think landscape format books tend to sit around longer for me before I read them. That makes no logical sense, but it appears to be what happens with me.

Overall Grade A – Rickey is Mickey and the “true” history is now revealed about his rise to fame and glory.

I know it is strange to review older material at times, but I’m sure plenty of people have missed this book and hopefully I will inspire a couple of people to check it out.

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