Tales of Woodsman Pete
Completely by Lilli Carre
You know what publisher is just great? Top Shelf Productions. There has been quite a few classics from the company such as Box Office Poison, Essex County, March, Chester 5000 (see last entry for details), a new Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas adaptation, the hits are obvious and numerous. Way back in the year of 2006, a quiet classic emerged known only as, Tales of Woodsman Pete. This book was written, drawn, lettered, etc etc by Lilli Carre, whose art is distinct and ranges from sculpture to illustration to film and beyond! Check out her works here!
Tales of Woodsman Pete is exactly how it sounds... tales of a little old woodsman! We see every facet of Pete's life as he lives alone in the woods and enjoys chopping down trees, hunting, taxidermy, and just enjoying nature. His best friend in the story is his bearskin rug, Phillipe, but he also enjoys speaking with his mounted animal heads as well as the local woodland creatures. We also see a sort of origin story to Pete's surroundings, as tales are told of Paul Bunyan and his travels in the area. This may sounds crazy, but this is an extremely intriguing character study into an unlikely character.
Primarily, Carre chronicles Pete's life and shows his current activities. However, through the taxidermied creatures he speaks with we see that he is more than just a crazy old hermit, but also a man who has some pain in his life. The character definitely has a few screws loose, but all the same we see that his life of seclusion is in many ways due to the death of a loved one, leaving him to age alone in the forest. That being said, the character of Pete has a pretty constant optimism and in the stories he tells lies wisdom that is honestly pretty profound. That being said, don't feel the need to look too deep into it, because more than anything else this is just a fun little set of tales. Behind Pete are the tales of Paul Bunyan and Babe the Ox, each of which shows the difficulties Bunyan constantly has and his hope for a romance that can never be due to his size. These short segments serve as journeys into the mythology of the woods in which Pete resides.
The art is primarily line work using dark blue inks (not present in my pictures as I am using black & white scans), with the occasional panel being shaded for extra detail. Where Carre really excels is in her textures, especially in hair. Whether it's Pete's beard or Paul's hair, Carre patterns it to have an understandable texture that is very enticing to look at and ads a whole new level of style to the book. She also adds extra details to certain background characteristics, the mounted heads in particular, making Pete's interactions with them feel a little bit more twisted. Finally I would like to discuss the environments. Most of the backgrounds are relatively empty or completely filled with trees. This characteristic of the story provides the reader with a sense that both Pete and Paul are truly alone in an endless sea of green, with the exception of Babe of course.
Sometimes a story comes out with no context and exists only to introduce a character into our world. That's what we have in Tales of Woodsman Pete. That being said, there is a serious charm to the story, as well as an intriguing sadness buried under Pete's optimism. Carre has written/drawn a obscurely whimsical character that you grow more interested in throughout the book. If she wanted to create another collection of these short stories about the old man who lives in the woods I would not be opposed, but for now this is enough. It's a somewhat difficult book to explain, but this book has a unique style and something to enjoy on every page. Tales of Woodsman Pete isn't a ton of money, your best bet for picking this book up is by going to Amazon.