The Abominable Charles Christopher by Karl Kerschl is the fifth of this year’s Eisner nominees for Best Digital Comic.
How to describe the world of The Abominable Charles Christopher? Not really realistic but still seemingly modeled after our world. Only it’s a world of animals with familiar human problems like drinking too much, intrusive advertising, and seeing your analyst. The bees run the very exclusive honey club and the squirrels make the best deserts. There’s a lot of funny bits in many of the strips based on simply having the animals act like humans.
And then there’s Charles who doesn’t seem to share the inter-animal communication skills of every other character nor much good sense either. He’s a bit of a man-child really, well an abominable snowman-child to be exact, but you get the picture. He has no luck with the honey club and the owls don’t seem to have a high opinion of him either. He is however, a pretty protective guy, looking out for bunnies and talkative foxes.
And all of that would make a pretty interesting, if entirely light-hearted, comic. But Kerschl has other things in mind. There’s a story lurking in this comic that we’re only just getting the first true glimmer of. It begins when Charles’ rambling is interupted by a ghostly moon bear, who deposits Charles at the foot of a snow covered mountain. Charles climbs the mountain (with the help of a small fox) and meets a lion who has a mission for Charles to fulfill.
All the while a bear named Vivol has warned the forest of danger and we have also learned a bit about Vivol’s dark circus past.
It might seem odd that it feels like the story in this year old webcomic is just getting started but the comic does update weekly and therefore has less than fifty episodes so far. And while the story is still to be developed, Kerschl has done a remarkably effective job of sketching out the world in which it takes place.
The art is very well done. Kerschl simply has excellent drawing ability — it’s obvious in the way he’s portrayed all of the animals as animals and yet with these human behaviors. And for the main characters, starting with Charles, he’s done a great job of character design. And it’s not just the characters, Kerschl is doing great work crafting complete panels with background detail as needed. One thing to note is that the coloring is monochromatic and while it didn’t detract from reading the comic — I do wonder if it is ultimately the right choice for the comic — it is such a vivid world that he’s creating that it does make you wonder what it would look like in full color.
Overall though The Abominable Charles Christopher is a light-hearted, entertaining comic so far and one I can’t recommend enough.