A self-published, warts-and-all collection of comic strips banged out while the artist was at his day job couldn't possibly be this entertaining...could it? Wolf's drawing is a little rough at times, and he could really use the aid of a letterer or at least some handwriting practice, but it's the feeling of the work that carries the day. And reading Pangaea feels good. Returning the comic strip to its roots — three panels and a joke, like clockwork — Wolf succeeds where the legion of Far Side/Calvin & Hobbes rip-offs that populate St. Louis' Only Daily fail. It helps that his main characters (Zephyr the kindly monkey, Henry the selfish koala and Kyle the childlike alligator) are well-developed enough that their interactions generate laughs without seeming like obvious setups, but there's more than merely a sense of humor at work here. Some strips deal with a very adult sense of disappointment: Zephyr isn't succeeding as a writer and Kyle's beloved vegetable garden doesn't win the award he craves. But the two are still friends, encouraging one another to believe that someday they will make it. And so they go on dreaming. It's this humanity that makes Wolf's work worth picking up again and again — although sometimes you are just picking it up to laugh at Kyle and his battles with the tape gun.
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