Items Reviewed: The Warehouse: Fables from Vacationland issue 1-3
Synopsis: The Warehouse is the story of Roscoe, a level-headed and educated bear who was wrongfully convicted of a crime and locked up in a state corrections facility. Along the way, he gains a few loyal friends who share his hardships in a place where life stands still.
Length: 26 pages per issue
Author/Artist: R. Cobos
Publisher: Buzz Badger Comics
Charming Yet Surprisingly Deep
Roscoe is a mild-manner bear who found himself in a bad situation. He is the creation of R. Cobos. This is series is a combination of Cobos imagination and some of his own personal experiences in prison. It’s a fun story that has surprisingly deep moments. But does it translate well? Let’s find out
The story format of this series is unusual. While it is one cohesive story, you shouldn’t come to each issue expecting a start to close story. Each page feels more like a series of webcomics that connect together as a whole, yet understood in short bursts. At first, I found this jarring simply because I didn’t expect it, but after reading through you get used to the rhythm of the writing.
The further into the storyline you get, you really begin to get a sense of the characters and find yourself genuinely feeling for them. These emotions are especially highlighted after reading some of the extra pages in issues 2 and 3 that give you info about the real-life inspiration behind some of the principal characters. More than once, I found myself putting the comic down to reflect on some of the deeper themes revealed in this series between the humor.
In preparation for writing this article, I did some digging to see what people’s responses were to this book. Many found it encouraging because they were incarcerated and found a new way of looking at the time they were serving. Others were encouraged because it helped them to have a greater understanding of what their loved ones were going through. As for me, having personally never been to prison or been directly tied to someone who has, it honestly made me pause to wonder just how our judicial system works and what the men and women in our prison system go through.
I mentioned earlier that reading this series felt more like reading multiple webcomics or even Sunday Morning News Paper comics. The art style here honestly helps with that feeling. You get the sense that each panel was hand drawn but colorized in layers Photoshop or some other art software. This simplistic, colorful art is very inviting to a reader looking for something light to read through. The broader themes inside however will take them by surprise as they will not be expecting to see such stories paired with the art.
I did find it interesting how Cobos highlighted racial tensions by using animal breeds. You had Bears hanging with bears, Dogs with Dogs, so on and so on. You then see police offers portrayed as pigs and german shepherds. I felt that those were a bit on the nose, but in when you reflect on the background of the author, it’s an understandable choice.
As stated before this story does carry some deeper themes and strike up some tough conversations that need to take place in our society. There are some more mature references to some of the darker side of prison life made, yet they aren’t done explicitly. In fact, as a whole, this book is very clean without a single curse word throughout the 3 issues I read.
The question then becomes “who is this book for?” I think this book would be perfectly fine for younger teenagers to read. I would hope that between the humor of the book that they would see the seriousness and harshness of prison life and do their best to live the straight and narrow life. Early I mentioned how this book was an encouragement to particular individuals and honestly I think those are the intended audience. I, of course, am speaking of those who are currently serving out time (both wrongfully and rightfully) in prison and those who are directly tied to those individuals. I can easily so how the humor mixed with moments of more in-depth conversation would encourage and inspire people in this situation.
Roads of Hope
What Cobos does here is something essential to all those going through a hard time. He took a situation that was bleak and hopeless and turned it into a tool of hope. The early versions of these comics were his processing his situation and putting to paper the small glimmers of hope that he saw. No matter the case you may find yourself in, purposefully look for hope, grab hold of it, and when the darkness passes; because it will; use it to bring others hope.
At the end of the day, The Warehouse: Fables from Vacationland, is a comic drawn with a simplistic style that highlights and brings hope to those in a very complicated situation. The web-comic style storytelling is jarring at first, but as a whole, it creates a very touching story. My final rating is a solid 4 out of 5.