Sara Varon’s Vision of Robot Dreams

Posted by Michael Pinto on May 24, 2008 in Comic Books |

Robot Dreams by Sara Varon

As part of our ongoing campaign to support the destruction of superheroes I’ve decided to shine some light on publisher :01 First Second books. What I like about these folks is that they’ve done an amazing job bringing high quality yet quirky graphic novels to a world that’s been lost to the epic battle of comic book clichés. So here’s a title from their back catalog which I think is worth checking out:

Robot Dreams

A dog and his robot, what else would you need? This graphic novel follows the adventures of a lonely dog who finds companionship with a mail order robot. While the setup of the plot sounds silly (and yes the book is filled with whimsy) Sara Varon’s work is unique in that it also manages to be rather touching at moments. Her work reminds me of the Peanuts school of comic art in that personality of her characters aren’t one dimensional even though they’re drawn that way. Yet unlike Charles Schultz, Varon’s work features few words — it’s like looking at stills from a classic silent film where the pictures do the work of storytelling:

Robot Dreams by Sara Varon

The other theme I kept coming across in the book was a light sense of surrealism, which sort of reminded me of Krazy Kat in a good way. For example Varon takes advantage of her robot character in one scene by having a mechanically gifted raccoon save our hero from the trash by rebuilding him with a ghetto blaster. And the results are rather pleasing:

Robot Dreams by Sara Varon

The other nice thing about this book is that in a gentle way Varon is touching on many themes that we come across every day in modern society from consumerism to the splitting of the nuclear family structure, and yes even ecology. However she’s never heavy handed or preachy about it in her work, instead she paints the scene through the eyes of her characters so you get a sense of sympathy for them:

Robot Dreams by Sara Varon

So if you’re trying to introduce a non-fanboy (or non-fangurl) to graphic novels I’d say that Robot Dreams would be a wonderful starting point for an audience that would find it very user friendly, yet engaging.

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