Nerd Culture

6 Anthropomorphic Comics to Remind You We're All Animals

The aesthetic and art direction reeks of 1950s film noir.
The aesthetic and art direction reeks of 1950s film noir. Art by Juanjo Guarnido/Courtesy of Dark Horse

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click to enlarge ART BY DAVID PETERSEN/COURTESY OF ARCHAIA AND BOOM! STUDIOS
Art by David Petersen/Courtesy of Archaia and BOOM! Studios
Mouse Guard
David Petersen
Archaia

David Petersen created this sprawling epic about brave warriors who defend those who cannot protect themselves. The titular Mouse Guard consists of different members, showcased in different eras, as they partake in battles, quests, and contests of might.

Petersen’s first two series took place in chronological order, setting up a betrayal of the Guard and their subsequent defense, all while building the legend of one of their greatest warriors, the Black Axe. The next volume delved into the Black Axe’s past, showing how his legend was established.

But Petersen’s focus has shifted lately, toward a book of production materials and artwork, a roleplaying game campaign, and two Legends of the Guard collections made up of short stories from other creators. However, Petersen said he’s back to work on the main series with another installment in the series’ past, focusing on a war between the Guard and some of their main adversaries: WEASELS.

So if you ever imagined a squadron of blade-brandishing mice killing a bunch of angry weasels, get caught up now before the next series starts hitting shelves.



click to enlarge Few cartoonists can depict violence and action sequence without glorifying gore like Sakai. - ART BY STAN SAKAI/COURTESY OF DARK HORSE
Few cartoonists can depict violence and action sequence without glorifying gore like Sakai.
Art by Stan Sakai/Courtesy of Dark Horse
Usagi Yojimbo
Stan Sakai
Dark Horse Comics, Fantagraphics

Stan Sakai is a master cartoonist, cited by many working today as an inspiration in the field. His long-running opus, Usagi Yojimbo, began in 1984 and continues to this day. The comic was published by Fantagraphics in the '80s, but has since (and continues to) come out through Dark Horse Comics.

Miyamoto Usagi is a rabbit and a ronin, traveling throughout feudal Japan and often performing good deeds for those in need. One of the longest running independent comic series, Sakai’s Usagi has even appeared alongside more famous anthropomorphic creations in the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comics and cartoons.

But Sakai’s stories cannot be overshadowed by some half-shelled turtles. The critically acclaimed Book 15: Grasscutter does not require any previous reading to understand, nor does the just-as-good Book 18: Travels with Jotaro, chronicling Usagi’s complex-but-loving relationship with his son. So don’t be intimidated by Usagi’s over-30-year history, just dive in and enjoy some amazing comics about a rabbit remorsefully fucking shit up.

click to enlarge These Uncle Scrooge and Donald Duck comics are among some of the best in the history of the medium. - ART BY DON ROSA/COURTESY OF FANTAGRAPHICS AND DISNEY
These Uncle Scrooge and Donald Duck comics are among some of the best in the history of the medium.
Art by Don Rosa/Courtesy of Fantagraphics and Disney
Uncle Scrooge
Don Rosa, Carl Barks
Disney, Fantagraphics

YES, Uncle Scrooge. Not a typo, not a mistake. The late Carl Barks’ original comic strips — later continued by the great Don Rosa — maintained a historical accuracy while popularizing Scrooge and his nephews Huey, Dewey, and Louie.

Barks created many of the characters and stories that would consist of Disney’s first syndicated cartoon, the beloved Duck Tales, including the Beagle Boys, Gyro Gearloose, and of course Scrooge McDuck. For his contributions to the medium, he was one of the first inductees into the Comic Book Hall of Fame.

Rosa later took over the comics and used Barks’ original stories as his foundation, tossing aside the chaff that other creators added to the mythos, and maintaining the spirit of the original series. Fantagraphics has been publishing both creators' original strips for Disney in new, oversize, hardcover volumes. Rosa continues to tour conventions around the country — you might notice the sign at his table that warns less-savvy fans that the Uncle Scrooge comics and the Duck Tales cartoons are separate entities, so make sure you keep whatever bullshit quips you come up with to yourself when approaching him.
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Joseph Schmidt
Contact: Joseph Schmidt