Review: Thoughts On A Winter Morning by Kurt Busiek and Steve Lieber

Louis Falcetti writes for Bleeding Cool;

Chris Roberson continues to put his money where his mouth is as Monkeybrain Comics rolls out more and more exclusive, digital (creator owned) titles through Comixology. Out this week and available for the incredibly fair price of $.99 is Thoughts On A Winter Morning written by Kurt Busiek and illustrated by Steve Lieber.

Thoughts is a heartfelt, honest appreciation of life, time, love and everything else we think about while walking our dogs through the snow. First written back in 1998 the script remained just that, a script, until 2005 when it was illustrated by Lieber and put out in the Negative Burn anthology. It’s an autobiographical comic, regarding Busiek’s musings following the birth of his first child, causing him to look back to his own childhood in Massachusetts.

The note from Busiek at the end of the comic, conveying the information I’ve only just delivered, struck me, especially in regards to age of the piece. Reading it, I was sure that this comic must’ve been done up recently, solely for the world of digital comics, because that’s how good it looks as Comixology moves you through the panels. There might be a frame or two that bleeds into another one, but other than that, the work really works in the digital format. That’s a relief to me, for I’ve read capes and cowls punch-ups digitally and the motion frame format works wonderfully for huge dramatic scenes of violence and wisecracks. I was unsure as to how the medium would work on a story with a totally different tone.

Thoughts is an unique experience brought to life by two unique and talented creators. When I hear Kurt Busiek, I think glistening homages to silver age splendor and an encyclopedic mind of cosmic comic continuity. When I hear Steve Lieber I think of expertly drawn crime comics. But then we have Thoughts which is beautiful and touching without being overly sentimental or sappy. With both of those creators removed from the genres that we normally associate with them, we’re given a work that brings us much closer to their core as artists than a thousand issues of for hire comics would.

Thoughts follows the Kurt Busiek of 14 years ago as he walks his dog through the snow, thinking about childhood and how our perceptions change as we age. There was a big rock in front of his house, known of course as “the big rock”. There was a big rock near my house growing up in Massachusetts too, which we also called “the big rock” and now I’m wondering if this is some kind of collective unconscious child-mind reality definer. Then again, our big rock was at the end of a sandy hill we called “Miami Beach”, that I actually thought was in Miami Florida until an age which would be a morbid embarrassment to share with you.

Lieber’s art is so knowing and carefully rendered, the faces on the children so expressive and the environments so fully realized the experience of reading Thoughts is like being taken on an illustrated tour through someones memories. Nothing feels hokey or thrown in simply for the sake of trying to hit your emotional buttons.

It may be August, but for a few minutes you can immerse yourself in snow and memories of the magic you used to see in the world, with love for those experiencing it now. Thoughts has been out of sight for 7 years, don’t let another 7 pass without experiencing this revealing and loving portrait of days gone by.

Thoughts On A Winter Morning is available through ComiXology.

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