Little David

By David Cantero (Northwest Press)
eISBN: 978-1-9438900-0-2 (digital only)

Families are important: by all metrics the foundation of human society. If we swallow our arrogant exceptionalism for a moment, it’s also the binding concept of all mammalian life and a fair bit of the rest of Earth’s breathing occupants. You just need to be flexible, amenable to change and willing to re-examine and where necessary loosen any old hidebound definitions you might have acquired while growing up…

The concept is one we’re finally shedding: escaping centuries of oppressive preconditioning and the diktat of whatever autocratic – or, more usually, theocratic – hegemony presumes to run your life.

I’ll restate that just in case I wasn’t clear: human beings are all about families and what constitutes a family is open to interpretation…

David Cantero Berenguer (The Little Swallow Light, Cunitoons, People) was born in Cartagena, Spain and – after graduating in 1996 from the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Liège – embarked on a stellar career as an author, cartoonist, illustrator, concept artist, designer and games maker. He is a prolific creator of books and graphic novels for kids and adults. Many of his works involve gay themes, ranging from inclusive all-ages chronicles (like the one under review here) to beguiling adult erotica.

First released in 2015 and deftly referencing Winsor McCay’s classic fantasy Little Nemo in Slumberland, Little David is a delicious selection of short gags wherein the ever-inquisitive titular star cavorts, chats and interacts with nine other kids, all cumulatively representing the wealth of options qualifying as family units today.

David himself has two dads, and pal Ulysses has a widowed mother, a stepdad and two half-brothers, whilst forthright Marie just has her mum. Abrasive Big Harry is full-nuclear in a biological clan of mum, dad and one sister, whereas Lenais a result of artificial insemination undertaken by her already-divorced mother. Anastasia has a mum and dad who conceived her in vitro, and PJ was adopted. Completing the menu, Ian has a trans dad and a mum whilst twins Yoko and Keiko have two mums and are the result of natural insemination…

That’s a heady mix and the subject of exactly the kind of innocently incisive, hilarious conversations you’d imagine a bunch of smart, curious kids to indulge in when the adults are absent and they’re trying to get to know each other.

The result is a charming and wittily compelling string of spit-take moments, especially as David (and his beloved stuffed unicorn Little Poo Poo) not only learn about many other ways of living but also explore various ways of dressing and expressing his own developing personality, interests and choices…

As innocently enchanting as Peanuts, as astute as Bloom County and as revelatory as Calvin and Hobbes, this peewee playground of family fun offers as sincerely inclusive and heartwarming kindergarten of comics messaging as you’d ever want your kids to see and is also a superb example of top rate cartooning to gladden the eyes.

Little David is a book every home and elementary school should have and use.
© 2015 David Cantero. All rights reserved.