This book collects (all?) five issues of Patrick Kyle’s Baby. It feels like it possibly read better as single issues? Each issue is its own self-contained story of Baby, but all the issues together don’t really tell a complete or interconnected story. What I mean is, the five issues don’t read like chapters of a book, but more like individual short stories centered around the same character, so the first issue seems the most inventive, but as the book goes along, it doesn’t get more interesting and doesn’t really have more than one basic joke, so feels too repetitive, and for me, the collection somewhat runs out of gas about halfway through. The best part of the book is the early joke, featuring “baby” interacting with his “parent” in an unusually advanced and disagreeable way. When I think about it, I guess the joke is maybe in the same vein as the Look Who’s Talking films? Obviously more arty and, somewhat psychedelic feeling. Across the different issues we see “Baby” grow old, grow young again, live for ten-thousand years in a deep cavern, be reborn multiple times, and finally transform into a new kind of creature and escape the home nest once again. There’s something funny and abstract to this off kilter examination of the cycle of birth death and rebirth. It’s interesting, but also weirdly light and playful feeling. For me, I just wish it came together into something a little more solid.
I do like Kyle’s artwork, but feel like as the book goes on, his somewhat minimalist cartooning is just a little too simple and to really hold one’s interest. There’s not enough variety or character there, and the drawing is a little too abstract to really grab this reader (it all starts to blend together after a while), maybe similar to the somewhat abstract cartooning in all those endless Michael DeForge books.
To keep it basic, I loved the first couple of issues, but there wasn’t enough here to love over a hundred and forty pages of story. There’s a lot to like in these pages, so it’s not a bad book, but also not a great book. I’m sure I would have been plenty satisfied with picking up just the first couple of zines (if I’d known about them when they were available).