Review by Win Wiacek
Best known for incisively mature comics like Exit Wounds and the Hebrew Hebrew iteration of Mad Magazine, Israeli cartoonist Rutu Modan has also illustrated many works by other writers. However, until the release of Maya Makes a Mess, she had never written and drawn a comic for young children.
This expansively engaging tale has a delightfully faux-English ambiance to it and apparently stems from a hard-learned lesson in etiquette and table-manners involving the author and her young daughter Michal.
It all kicks off when Mummy sternly tells little Maya to stop eating her pasta with her hands, and continues as the little tyke endures a torrent of unnecessary orders such as “sit up” and “use a napkin”. When she tries to feed the dog a titbit Father further admonishes her and asks how she would behave if she was eating with The Queen. Just then there’s a loud ring of the doorbell and an elegant footman enters, blows a trumpet fanfare and delivers a formal invitation. Maya’s presence has been requested at a Royal Dinner Party that very night.
Too rushed to even put on a party frock, Maya is hustled into a jet in the garden and flown off to the Palace. Soon the little girl is crammed into a grand ballroom setting with lots of fancy dishes on posh tables being delicately consumed by dull Dukes and dry dowagers, glowering generals and diffident debutantes. Even the Corgis at her feet are snooty.
This is terrific for those just starting to read on their own, delivering anarchic, amusing antics from a fantastically forceful yet likable little lass successfully striking back against those stupid grown-up rules. It’s rendered in a delightful digital and lavish adaptation of Hergé’s classic and miraculously effective ligne claire art style, and as such is also a beguilingly seductive visual experience for bookworms and browsers of any vintage.