I don’t know what to label Bookhunter. Probably collected webcomic, but really labelling comics sucks. Is it indie? Is it alternative? Is it small press? I don’t how the rest of the industry labels shit because there’s no unifying label system. For me, there’s corporate comics, below that small press corporate comics, actual small press, indie small press below that and then straight up indie fucking comics. No one else will use this system of labelling I assure you, but for the sake of this review Bookhunter is in the indie small press category. I explained all that because lately, no, since the site was started (way back on July 31st, 2011) I have read a lot of indie small press. A lot of it has been bad. Some of it has been so good that it renewed my faith in the entire medium. Every once in a while, you need those victories so that you can keep going and finding the diamonds in the rough. Bookhunter is one of those titles that renews your faith. It’s a needed win after reading so much meh. So much uninspired homage that your eyes roll to the back of your head Undertaker style because you just can’t read one more person’s take on Superman, Spider-Man or some kind of dystopian future bounty hunter. Sometimes you just need something with a title so ridiculous that you can’t help but be curious about it.
Now… this opening is going to continue because I can’t figure out what the hell is going on with Bookhunter. I got this review copy from a resource for reviewers. It’s a professional site that I won’t be sharing the name of because frankly, there’s enough damn comic sites out there that are similar to us and we’re all covering the same shit. So no, I won’t be giving out free info. At any rate, the book was original published in 2007 so I’m not sure if it’s going back to the press or what. It could be a new print by Alternative Comics and nothing more. But with almost ten years under its belt, it’s safe to say that you might have read Bookhunter or maybe you’ve just heard about it.
For that reason, I will keep my description short. Picture every cop show, every FBI show/story that you’ve ever seen or read. Now narrow that down to the ones dealing with kidnappings and a cop playing by their own rules. Got that? Okay now make it all about library books and in particular one bible that’s been stolen and replaced with a fake.
And if that sounds completely goofy it’s because it is. When you see the resources that are used to track this book it’s just utterly ridiculous, but what makes the story and world so fantastic is that creator Jason Shiga never breaks kayfabe. That is to say, he never stops the story from being serious. It’s ridiculous to us, but everyone in the story is serious business. For the characters in this world, getting this library book back is the most important thing to them and it makes the story funnier because of it.
The sheer amount of detail that Shiga puts into this story is frankly crazy. He had to do so much damn research on paper, printing, safes and libraries just for a few pages of the overall story. It’s crazy, but again makes the story better and more entertaining. Also, it's pretty damn riveting and that's not something I think anyone would typically say.
The art works for the story. I’m not going to tell you that it’s the best art I’ve ever seen, but I loved the hell out of it for this book. The characters have a set style. They’re all round and almost LEGO like in that only their clothes and hair define them. Shiga puts in a lot of detail overall and stays true to the time period he established. His action sequences were easy to follow and exciting. They were also a little different from what you typically see which was nice. There was inventiveness to the action and it worked in print form.
I had a good laugh at this book. I’m incredibly glad that it exists and more so that I read it. This may be a new print or whatever, but it was new to me and I have a feeling probably still new to a lot of other people out there as well. If you’re looking for something indie small press to check out and maybe renew your faith in the medium or you’re just looking for a good laugh… look no further than Bookhunter.
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