'Eve of the Ozarks' delightful comic for all-ages

In a medium filled with superheroes and colossal events for mature audiences, there's a shining beacon of hope that happens to be an appropriate comic for all ages. "Eve of the Ozarks: Girl & Goat" is a collection of the webcomic "Eve of the Ozarks" written and illustrated by Gustav Carlson.

Eve is an adventurous little wild child who can speak to the animals and trees of the Ozarks, while others don't have her unique abilities. The 'Ozarks' is the name of the mountain range and surrounding terrain that covers much of the southern half of Missouri and an extensive portion of northwestern and north central Arkansas. That's where Carlson was raised, so it makes sense for him to write about what he knows. Eve's adventures take place back when the countryside was free of cities and people, and strange critters roamed free: a simpler time.

This first volume a collects the first seven stories starring Eve and her companion Hieronymus, a powerful cantankerous old goat, as they venture forth to deal with ancient evils that lurk at the Bluffs, feed apples to an agitated reptilian monster, introducing sap spectres to enjoyable winter activities and much more.

The extras in the back include a fascinating look at the evolution of Eve, for there were several different sketched versions until Carlson settled on the current design.

While Carlson's other webcomic "Backwood Folk" focuses on pink-eyed monsters, relationships with old friends and mysterious figures haunting the woods of Po'Dunk, "Eve" is more of a young adult title. It's one of those comics you can enjoy with your child while also feeling like one upon reading it. Carlson is a smart man for catering to two different demographics, while simultaneously telling the stories he wants to tell focusing on the fascinating and magical area he grew up in.

Carlson's art in "Eve" is simply beautiful, with a raw-yet-bold look and feel. His style is reminiscent of artists like Jeff Lemire, Barry Windsor-Smith and Jeff Smith rolled into one with the coloring of Jose Villarrubia. There is lots of love in the artwork, and also lots of detail. No space goes to waste, for Carlson makes sure you get the most bang for your buck with this first volume that welcomes you to this majestic backwoods world.

With the holidays rapidly closing in, "Eve of the Ozarks: Girl & Goat" would be a great gift for that young reader in your life and a good story to share with friends. It's new, fun and different: isn't that what we're always looking for in a good comic?