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Before its voluntary departure from the Washington Post, "Liberty Meadows" had gained a loyal following that brought it back from possible cancellation more than once. In a sea of snippy animals and dysfunctional families, Frank Cho's strip brought us something fresh and original: Complete madness.

But in case readers weren't lucky enough to catch Cho's strip initially, it has been immortalized in "Liberty Meadows 1," which compiles the first nine issues. Expect nothing but madness, mayhem and a bit of wistful romance, and this kooky comic will not disappoint.

Welcome to Liberty Meadows, an animal preserve overseen by vet Frank and animal shrink Brandy. Nerdy Frank is instantly smitten with busty, kind-natured Brandy, but lacks the self-confidence to ask her out. As he struggles to admit his feelings, he must get to know the residents.

Unfortunately, those residents include a crazed cow who wants to kidnap celebrities (especially William Shatner), hypochondriac frog Leslie, chain-smoking pig Dean who hits on anything in a skirt, Truman the timid aquaphobic duck, and Ralph the midget circus bear.

This loony crew tries to deal with dates (where Brandy's crazed ex tries to kill Frank), the evil catfish Khan, camping trips with psychedelic mushrooms, falls into mine shafts, severed noses, truck-sized ticks, the insane stalker Cow kidnapping a celebrity and -- worst of all -- Dean's trip through the land of Cold Turkey.

It's hard to find a comic strip that is as relentlessly weird as "Liberty Meadows," and it's amazing that Frank Cho managed to keep these off-the-wall jokes going for so long. Or, for that matter, that he managed to make them up at all. Mad Cow kidnapping William Shatner? That one was priceless, I have to admit.

Cho straddles the line between realistic and cartoonish artwork -- on one hand, Brandy and Frank are very realistic looking. Especially Brandy's, um, "details." Their actions are all-too-human, and our hearts bleed whenever Frank's nerve fails him. On the other hand, the animals and some of the supporting humans are goofy-looking, and act accordingly.

"Liberty Meadows" was a refreshing, too-brief reprieve on the comic page, and fortunately the stories of Brandy, Frank and the loony animals can be easily revisited in the first collection.
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on 8 January 2010
I thought this would make a great Xmas present for my sis, as we'd enjoyed Liberty Meadows so much in the newspapers. The previous reviewer has written a good introduction to Frank Cho and Liberty Meadows, so that saves me some gushing. Big surprise when this book came - the description here ('Liberty Meadows Bk 1', for future reference) does not do it justice!

I actually received the Eden 10th Anniversary Special Edition - the cover image shown here is printed on the dust jacket, which when removed reveals a gorgeously-bound book with the dust jacket image embossed in gold. Don't know if this is limited, but, fans, get it while you can. I'm going to get another one for myself.

The book contains a nice mix of strips featuring the Liberty Meadows characters in their early (and awkward-looking!) stages and as their later and more familiar selves. The nonsensical jokes and lively art will draw sudden giggles and guffaws, and everything is beautifully drawn. There is also a small special featuring a sketch gallery and Cho's college strips towards the end of the book. Awesome for book collectors, a must-have for Liberty Meadow fans and enough to get someone else hooked on Liberty Meadows.
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