Everything is always as it seems.
I had the privilege of diving into Joshua Hauke’s newest set of The Brother’s Three series, Potato-Brained Ideas. Each time I get to reading one of these books, I’m instantly reminded of why I love them so much. It’s the perfect illustration of family dichotomy: parents and children trying to outsmart each other, the dry wit of the adults balanced against the wild wackiness of the boys, and enough imagination to fuel both sides forever. Experience and knowledge matched against youthful exuberance and willingness to buy into any situation is what drives the plots inside, and it never fails to entertain because the stories come from a place of truth. Reading this, you fully expect to know how life is in the Hauke household through a lovely Muppet Babies-style filter, and the underlying love and fun of it is a wonderful thing to share with your own family.
Much like tall tales, each of these stories begins with the kernel of truth; there are phrases and moments that seem undeniably real and the product of having heard something amazing rather than cooked up on their own. Hauke takes these nuggets and turns them into great, little arcs that are ridiculous, heartwarming, and with just a little life lesson tucked subtly into each one. The exaggerations of each character’s real-life quirks are what give this a fluffy good feel and make the stories entertaining for everyone who’s ever been or encountered a child. I look forward to reading these volumes to my son and being able to watch him encounter it differently each time he does. As he grows he’ll find different things that tickle him, and they’ll be different from the things that are working so well for me now.
The artwork is still as crisp as ever, melding the real and imagined worlds well and feeling like a more animated Foxtrot with a darker palette. The tone is the right balance of cartoon and reality, with the world taking on a magical tone all its own. This is one of those great works where, like the Muppets, anything can become anything at any time. Any piece of furniture or woodland creature can become animated and deliver a zinging one-liner or dry, all-too-truthful observation.
That was the key behind Henson’s wondrous worlds, and Hauke has tapped a very similar place.
This is a great comic for any family to enjoy together, and for anyone who still has a piece of their childhood in their hearts. These stories will tickle and delight any age and make me excited for when my son is old enough to spin everyday moments into wondrous adventures. Silliness is a great thing to have on hand in life, and this book will keep you well stocked.
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