Review by Ian Keogh
Chimichanga is the everyday fairy story of the world’s youngest bearded woman and her monster, a story that could surely only originate in the fetid mind of Eric Powell. Moreover, instead of his usual horror style, he’s produced this as an all-ages hardcover. Lula is one of the better attractions among the mediocrities on display at Wrinkle’s Circus, where hard times are understandably approaching. Lucky, then, that the massive egg she’s traded with the local witch gives birth to a monster, whom she names Chimichanga after her favourite treat.
What’s astonishing about Chimichanga is that Powell draws it in much the same style he uses for The Goon. There’s a little less black ink, but grotesques are still present, and Chimichanga, like the Gruffalo, can be drawn to look goofy and silly or positively scary when needed. On the same note, Powell knows kids love a coarse joke, so there are plenty of them involving bottoms, pants and inappropriate behaviour. The problem of continuous farting actually propels the story, causing the introduction of the villain through which Powell makes a few points about the ethical redundancy of corporations, including a great panel of a Senator wheeling away a barrow full of money.
It doesn’t matter whether readers realise that Lula is a visual pastiche of Little Lulu, drawn with black circles for eyes, but those who do pick up on it achieve an extra level of amusement. Plus it’s Powell deliberately casting Chimichanga alongside one of John Stanley’s imaginatively fanciful tales that he had Little Lulu tell to placate that darn pest Alvin. He also serves the discerning with a selection of ridiculous sideshow attractions like Gene the Indifferent Clown, complete with designs to match their personalities, and then cleverly finds a special use for some.
Adults will predict the way things progress well enough, but children will enthral to the adventure, and Powell includes enough jokes along the way to keep their parents happy. It’s funny, it’s charming and there’s a moral about being true to the way you are. A second dose follows in The Sorrow of the World’s Worst Face.