Zine of the Week: The Amish Elf by Chris Kerr
Posted by Matthew Moyer on February 8, 2011
You could be forgiven for taking a look at the cover and title of Chris Kerr’s minicomic and think it a one-note joke. C’mon an Amish Elf? There’s gotta be a bad standup routine in there somewhere about oversize buggies? And yet, to his eternal credit, artist Kerr takes this limited concept and weaves a touching and bewitching mythos around it.
The plot is oblique and impossible to sum up in a brief manner to anyone’s satisfaction. Let’s just say that it’s a travelogue the likes of which you’d never read in a Disney story or Piers novel. Surreal phantasmagoria contrasts nicely with the more Spartan reality of an Amish village in a very entertaining manner.
No dialogue, bereft of any text, the weight of the storytelling falls on Kerr’s simple pen-and-ink line drawings. His art style is very familiar (I’m thinking of Magnus Carisson’s Robin and Russian dolls for some reason) and very individual at the same time. Whereas the lead characters–the Elf, the Wizard, and the Amish–are drawn in a very naive, cartoonish style, suddenly he’ll throw you for a curve by drawing, say, an alligator or an opossum in stunning photo-realist detail. Yet it’s the cartoons that pack the emotional punch, a page where a squirrel triumphantly teaches the Amish Elf to throw nuts at targets blindfolded is uplifting, and a shot of stoic Amish parents fighting back tears over the supposed death of their son is wrenching. And that last page? Man…
Read it, give it to your friends to read, and then argue over the plot more than you did with Twin Peaks!