Henry: The Heart Boy

A native of Mississauga, Ontario, cartoonist Ken Turner has worked predominantly in the worlds of animation and illustration in addition to self-publishing his own illustrated books and mini comics. Turner’s latest book is a twisted take on a children’s story that might appeal more to adults than the wee ones. The titular Henry is an odd-looking fellow with a large head and jaundiced complexion. One day he tries to give his heart away (literally) to the object of his affection, but her rejection (or rather revulsion) breaks and, eventually, kills his heart, setting poor Henry off on a surrealistic quest to get it back from the beyond.
There are some very clever moments in Henry: The Heart Boy, both within the rhyming scheme of the story and in the twisted world the story explores. His work, however, owes a very large stylistic debt to Tim Burton’s scrawled pen lines, wispy watercolours and combination of macabre and whimsical themes. All these blatant Burtonisms overshadow the obvious gifts Tuner has for character design and storytelling. His ink work is quite nice, especially in the black-and-white pieces at the back of the book. He has all the potential to become something more than a clone of his greatest influence. If he’s looking to get inspired, he might try following the words of Ed Wood he quotes on his own website: “Visions are worth fighting for. Why spend your whole life making someone else’s dreams come true?”  (Matthew Daley)

Ken Turner, 52 pgs, Freak Show Studios, kenturner.blogspot.com, $39.95

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