I still don’t get how they are twin brothers and have different last names, but I don’t particularly care as much as I like their art. Moon and Ba often collaborate on single projects (at least up until “Smoke and Guns” which I intend to review soon); and on Ursula they actually alternate pages, each doing a couple at a time.
While the styles page-to-page aren’t identical (and you can often find an Easter Egg signature by the brother who did a particular page), the art blends together; if not seamlessly, so well that the differences don’t bother you. I know that 1) not only have I read “Ursula” at least a dozen times and I still don’t know who did which page most of the time, but 2) I became so addicted to Moon and Ba after reading “Ursula” that I will basically buy any project that either brother does, almost unconditionally.
It started with “Smoke and Guns” but I have “Casanova” (which I didn’t like as much, honestly), but “The Umbrella Academy” and its sequel by My Chemical Romance’s Gerard Way.
I don’t want to say it’s a “Latin American” sensibility, even though the most obvious comparison to the twins would be Eisner Award winner Eduardo Risso of “100 Bullets” … Risso is Argentine and whereas Moon and Ba are Brazilian. However it is probably accurate to say that they are all cartoonists rather than what we would think of as mainstream “comic book” artists. All of them are superb storytellers that utilize exaggerated expression, heavily stylized figures, and heavy — but slick — ink work.
It’s hard to describe just what makes the art by Moon and Ba so addictive, so I thought that I would show it to you; please forgive the image quality… I took the pics with my dumb Palm Pre, and they really don’t do the brothers’ art justice.
One of the things I love about this book is how varied the art is. Here is a “typical” — yet anything but typical, in terms of skill level — page, I think by Ba. Notice how he uses “mere” black ink so many different ways on one page: Loose lines suggesting the weathered face of Miro’s father; slick shadows across Miro’s face or even the stone railing behind the conversing King and Prince; solid, shaped, black space for hair; and more than any of these, incredible brush work telling us so much — using so little — for the pair’s fur coats:
And from Moon:
This page, existing in the dreamscape of Ursula’s magical imagination, is reminiscent of Bill Watterson on a Sunday.
In the context of “Ursula”, it all makes sense, all works together, without a drop of red, green, or blue.
So what is “Ursula” about?
Well, the A+ grade from Variety so proudly boasted on the cover says it is…
A strange and beautiful emotional journey into the heart of love, A+
My translation: Fuck if I know.
“Ursula” is a mix of fairy tale, magical realism, and window into the minds — quite literally — of the creative twins. I don’t know if I “get it” get it, but I have still read the tiny graphic novel three times this week alone. To me it is mostly about the awesome art; which, I have tried to make clear to you, is awesome.
Like I said, after reading this the first time, I became completely addicted to Moon and Ba, buy everything they draw, &c.
The cover price on “Ursula” is $9.95, but Amazon has new copies at less than $6 the last I checked. Per any ads from here to there, I may earn like $.24 if you make a purchase. Honestly I’d rather you support your local comic book store; regardless Moon & Ba receive my highest possible recommendation.