Tony Millionaire’s Sock Monkey Returns In New Adventure, ‘Into The Deep Woods’
Tony Millionaire's Sock Monkey stories are a superb example of the unparalleled story-telling that only the medium of comics can offer, so the announcement of a new book featuring Uncle Gabby, Mr. Crow, and Inches the doll is exciting news. For those unfamiliar with Sock Monkey, it's a strange but satisfying amalgamation of traditional, old school children's books (particularly in terms of narrative style), ostensibly following the escapades of a monkey made from a a sock, a stuffed crow, and a creepy porcelain doll, but crossing into darker themes and horror, as the eccentric, superficial innocence of the set-up meets a very human realism.
One of the joys of the Sock Monkey books is seeing Millionaire test the surprising versatility of his material and the range of formats it works within -- from the black and white carefully replicated textured style seen in Heaven and Borneo, to the beauty of The Glass Doorknob, a gorgeous full-color, picture-book delight, which saw the toys marvel at the new doorknob's ability to reflect a rainbow prism via sunlight. Millionaire shows the same dexterity with subject matter, too: The Inches Incident -- which contained some of the creepiest, most disturbing visual imagery I've come across, despite not being exceptionally graphic -- saw Inches mutilated and inhabited by a swarm of ants who controlled her every move, and steadily destroyed piece by piece until only a portion of her shattered head remained, while in A Baby Bird, Uncle Gabby flees, devastated, to the desert to commit suicide after accidentally killing a baby bird, only to discover the paradox of not being alive and therefore incapable of death, left to his despair. They're weird, engrossing, yet brilliant stories that feature a cast of complex, not always like-able stuffed toys; Fantagraphics released a gorgeous Treasury Edition earlier this year, collecting all the Sock Monkey stories in one volume, which I can't recommend highly enough.
Written in collaboration with animation director Matt Danners, Into The Woods finds the toys convinced that their human owner, Ann-Louise, has been kidnapped by a vicious monster dubbed the Amarok, and so they embark on a mission into the Haunted Woods to rescue her and bring her home. "The epic quest that follows takes them by sea, land, and air through many fantastic lands and introduces a cast of fanciful characters and creatures including the Trumbernick (the pixie shaman of the forest), a giant sea monster, the Guardsmen of Bear Town, and a flock of flying harpies."
Releasing this October, the hardback Into the Woods will run to 80 black and white pages, and is available for pre-order now.