Review: Billy Hazelnuts

Billy Hazelnuts is a very weird sort of children’s fable.  Then again Tony Millionaire is a weird fellow.  He balances wondrous adventure with a kind of adult cynicism.  Vulgarity is easy (and Tony Millionaire can do that—see “Maakies” or “The Drinky Crow Show”), but Billy Hazelnuts is walking a much finer line.  It’s weird and stylized, yet still endearing.  Besides that, the art is nothing short of gorgeous.

Billy Hazelnuts is like if Gollum were a golem.  He was made by rats living in an old house.  The rats wanted an enforcer to protect themselves from the old lady of the house and her cat. Thus “Billy Houseflies” was born, with a body molded from gooey garbage and a ton of captured living flies for a brain.  Billy is naturally rambunctious and bestial (you know, like a real kid), yet has a sense of innocence about him.  He soon meets Becky, the girl living in the old house who fancies herself a scientist.  After noticing that the moon has disappeared, Billy leads them on a quest into the wilderness to find it.

Most of all there’s a sense of imagination and adventure to this book.  This world has an old-timey regularity, and is filled with characters that are just odd enough.  But there is adventure to be had, and their wild exploits are approached with a classic dime novel “Hurrah!”  We see a junkyard of broken planets, mechanical crocodile pirates, and a fierce battle-at-sea between a pirate ship and Noah’s Ark.  It’d be easy to say that this is comparable to stuff like Tim Burton or the Brothers Grimm, but honestly, I think it’s a whole lot better.

Get it here: http://www.amazon.com/Billy-Hazelnuts-Tony-Millionaire/dp/1560977019/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1278966740&sr=8-1

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