Matt Kindt does something in Poppy! and the Lost Lagoon that very few authors of comics directed at children do. Kindt does something with the story that even most adults rarely tap into with what they read in their comics nowadays. He connects on an emotional level.
Poppy Pepperton is a young girl seeking adventure with a former companion of her father and legal guardian, Colt Winchester. She is following in the footsteps of her grandfather, a once-great-adventurer, and sets out to correct a mistake her grandfather and Colt had made years ago. A giant octopus once brought fortune and wonder to a small island community, and it has gone missing for a number of years since Poppy’s grandfather’s blunder. Now they are set to venture out to the lagoon where the octopus last went missing.
What truly amazed me about this title is that Matt Kindt managed to put warmth into a story that is mostly for kids- content that actually was somewhat emotionally deeper than most titles aimed at a younger audience. We have Poppy, whose mannerisms mimic that of a 10-year-old to a point, while the older and more irritable Colt also has his character, complaining and fussing about things as older folk tend to do. Though both of them are of completely different mindsets, they bring to the adventure their own intelligence and experiences that bring them together. Their relationship is a heartfelt one, and amidst the cacophony of news reports about adults being inappropriate with children, it’s warming to see a story that shows what a real father-daughter relationship is supposed to look like, from characters that aren’t father and daughter.
The story does take off from a point of Poppy and Colt having returned from an adventure, and so the reader is left to understand that the two characters have been adventuring for some time. We get no formal introduction to their characters, and have to decipher their past relationship from their dialogue. There is also some question regarding a mysterious individual that sends Poppy and Colt out on their adventures. The reader is given very little information on the man, and we are left with more questions than answers about how this character ever got connected with the duo.
The story could very well exist without the artist- but the art of Brian Hurtt mixes a bit of simplicity with detail that compliments Kindt’s writing. It’s simple enough that you aren’t too much in awe of it over the storyline, but detailed enough to know that there are clues hidden in the art as to how Poppy and Colt will get out of their predicament.
Any google search of Brian Hurtt’s artwork will bring up a long and varied style that Poppy! and the Lost Lagoon doesn’t seem to fit. One may think it a little disheveled for such an artist that has done extensive penciling for titles such as Captain America, and created cover art for Jumper: Jumpscars, and The Sixth Gun. Yet even by looking at these covers you can see Hurtt has a talent for changing up his style given his audience. The colors of the page are a seemingly dulled tone of pastel that may seem sloppy for older audiences that seek more sophistication in their art, but it fits for the audience the title seeks to appeal to.
The overall art style is what you would expect to see on the back of a Lucky Charms box or something out of a Where’s Waldo? book. And it is exactly that style of simplicity that appeals to the younger age range, while providing a level of detail that lets the reader see the clues on the page without putting on more on the panels than what is needed.
Poppy! and the Lost Lagoon is an interesting read. The story does seem to drag a bit as there were many pages that seemed to focus more on the scene rather than the dialogue. However, these moments give you a breather and allow you to reflect on the characterization. Kindt’s ability to give a character more emotional depth than any usual kid’s title makes it a fun read as well as a deeper read than most. That combined with the Hurtt’s simple art style makes it a good standalone title for all ages, and has something to offer for any audience. For the younger reader, they get a fun interplay between generations as seen in Poppy’s and Colt’s bantering, while at the same time the older reader can appreciate that within this interplay, there is a sort of warmth and depth of genuine care they have for one another.
- Fun storyline offers something for all ages
- Actual puzzles that can be figured out
- Story has tender moments
- Art style may only appeal to younger ages
- Backstory on some characters not provided