Renee French is one of the most idiosyncratic voices in Comics today. Her career to date, her milieu if you will - as showcased marvelously in Marbles in My Underpants, is one earmarked by the presence of glands, vivisection, staring, and things being inserted into other things. If David Lynch made Winnie the Pooh movies, I bet they'd look like Renee's work.
So, when I heard that THE SOAP LADY was a children's book, I of course thought it was some odd sort of joke.
Rather than continue along the "I thought A about this book when in fact it is a much-better B and aren't I a rube for ever doubting" review formula, let's just skip to the part where I make sweet love in two hundred words or so to THE SOAP LADY and convince you to buy it and read it, shall we?
THE SOAP LADY is a children's picture book about friendship and loss intertwining throughout the dusk of childhood. Sweetly innocent, magical, and almost serene, THE SOAP LADY follows the adventures of a young, perpetually filthy boy named Rollo and his playmate, a woman made of soap. They laugh a lot, have fun, and clean stuff together. The Soap Lady gives Rollo those neat devil horns while washing his hair like your mom used to give you in the bathtub. Of course, the local Townspeople don't understand their magic visitor (as Townspeople are want to do) and thereby hangs conflict...
Illustrated in gorgeously volumetric pencil, THE SOAP LADY bops along on the page to its own rhythm, its own wavelength. Renee French has crafted a soft, fuzzy little masterpiece of imagination and beauty masquerading as a simple children's book, all the while remaining a product of her own strange and wonderful voice. A must for coffee tables and nurseries everywhere.
Matt Fraction splits his time between motion graphics and design house MK12, writing comics, and reading comics. He is the author of the graphic novels The Annotated Mantooth and Last of the Independents, both available from AiT/Planet Lar. He can be found on the web at mattfraction.com. His wife is hot.