It’s been a while since we last saw a book from the fantastic Dean Beattie (Random Trials) and so when we heard he was involved in Tiny Wizards, a new series with writer Eben Burgoon, which is debuting at Thought Bubble 2021, we were intrigued. Little did we know we were going to be treated to a bizarrely brilliant world where the titular tiny wizards live in fast food restaurants and cause chaos like The Borrowers meets Lord of the Rings meets Fast Food Nation!
Publisher: Eben Burgoon
Writer: Eben Burgoon
Artist: Dean Beattie
Price: $2.99 from Eben’s Store
Tiny Wizards is one of those books that is so packed with great ideas and concepts that trying to sum them all up in a simple synopsis is impossible. At its simplest, Tiny Wizards is a story about a group of magical fantasy people who are transported from their homeland of Kepta Duona to live in an American city called Santo Queso Blanco, but in the process they end up only a few inches tall (hence being a bit like the Borrowers). There is a power struggle between King Karl and his daughters, the evil pink Wendy and the much more assuming Junior (aka Eleanor). With King Karl out of the picture, Eleanor is sent to find to find a mysterious wizard to help teach her how to take on her sister.
As you can see from this there’s a lot of familiar fantasy plot elements here, but what makes it work so well is that it is all played out in this bizarre miniature world centred around Fast Food restaurants. This allows Burgoon and Beattie to really go all out, with evertyig from an army of evil ketchup sachets, to a stand off over a deep fat frier. And while this sounds insane, it just kind of works thanks to some superb writing and artwork.
Burgoon manages to layer the story up with tons of great humour and quirky character traits – especially Hugo the unicorn. Then when you dd to this Beattie’s outragouesly good artwork and you have a book which is one of a kind. Although in a strange way it reminded us a lot of the wonderful Chew for it’s mix of over the top concepts (many of which are food based!) and outrageous world building – but with the visuals and colours turned up to 11.
Beattie has this amazing style which is cartoonishly contorted, but with a painterly background that gives it a real sense of elegance too. It has the anarchic qualities of Ralph Steadman and the vibrant colours of Shaky Kane, but without looking like he is trying to copt either of those artists. His work is truly one of a kind. There are two double page spreads in the book (one featuring a battle in a fast food restaurant – see above – and one where the wizards first arrive which are just mind blowing for their detail and their amount of action and expression going on in every square centimetre!) The colours are just eye popping (especially the pinks of princess Wendy) and go brilliantly with the fantastic design of the book from Burgoon and letterer Michael Sekigahama.
While the story feels a bit all over the place at times, this has that raw energy and anarchic spirit which we so often talk about here as being what makes small press so compelling. If you were to knock some of the edges off and makes it more logical then it simply wouldn’t work. This is a book which revels in that chaotic spirit, but like so much that feels chaotic, underneath there is a plan and definite direction for where things are doing. At least, we think there are. A truly epic read!