Lio is a daily newspaper strip and this book is a compilation of many of them. It’s more like Family Circle than For Better or For Worse, if only in the superficial manner that it’s a gag-a-day rather than having any real sort of plot. The titular child is a strange kid who likes to into all kinds of mischief, usually with a dark twist. He’s the spiritual child of Cavin from Calvin and Hobbes and Wednesday Addams from The Addams Family, with Jason Fox from Foxtrot as a wacky uncle. And if you don’t think that that’s awesome, you’re wrong.
As I said, there’s no ongoing plot, so I can’t review one. I can, however, give you an example of the sort of strip that’s typical of the book. The first panel has Lio leaving out Reese’s Pieces for something that looks very much like E.T., luring him to Lio’s house. The second panel shows Lio’s room, complete with vivisection table. Or, there’s one where Lio is handing out free maps to a candy house to his fellow children. We then see him receive a payoff from a witch in a back alley. The humor runs to the dark and macabre, while heavily leaning on supernatural and mad science clichés.
The book is all in black and white, with lots of wavy curly lines. It’s not bad, but some of the strips have a slightly unfinished or sketchbook-y feel. This will not interfere with your enjoyment while reading the book, but it left me with a slightly bitter aftertaste. Still, it’s a minor, stylistic issue. The other thing worth noting is that there’s basically no dialogue. There are perhaps three word/thought bubbles in the entire compilation. This doesn’t hurt the strip’s ability to get its jokes across, though. The book is clearly aimed at children as well as adults, with beating up bullies and general mischief being a constant theme. Some parents my object to the dark humor, but there’s nothing truly scarring in it. While the book is rated ages 8-12, I thought it was hilarious and so did several others my age. So don’t pass it up if you’re older and enjoy this sort of thing.
All things considered, this book is incredibly funny and a quick, easy read. Pick it up when you get a chance.
Lio: There’s a Monster in my Socks
by Mark Tatulli
Andrews McMeel Publishing, 2012
Publisher Age Rating: 8-12