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Robert Kondo Books In Order

Publication Order of Standalone Books

The Dam Keeper: World Without Darkness (2018) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Publication Order of Afterworks Books

Afterworks Volume 1 (2006) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Afterworks Volume 2 (2006) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Oscar nominated director Robert Kondo grew up and was born in Los Angeles’ suburbs. When he was a child, he was first taught art by his mom (who was a trained fashion designer). This experience with his mother led him to study illustration in Pasadena at the Art Center College of Design.

He began without knowing a lot about art, and was a student that got poor grades in school. He began learning by surrounding himself with other great artists at his school and dared to dream bigger and bigger. This is how he was able to get hired by Pixar right out of art school.

For a dozen years, he worked at Pixar Animation Studios. He worked on “Monsters University”, “Ratatouille”, and “Toy Story 3”, serving as art director on each of these projects. Along with Dice Tsutsumi (who also worked at Pixar as a art director), he directed an award winning animated short film called “The Dam Keeper”.

The pair are also founders of Tonko House, LLC and this is just one of the movies they have done to try pushing them well out of their comfort zones. The film is a project they worked on while still working at Pixar.

The name Tonko is a mashup of the Japanese words for fox and pig. It serves as allusion for the animals that started it all. If they hadn’t been working very hard to make it happen at Pixar trying to bring the world come alive, the fox and pig in the film and graphic novels would not exist at all.

“The Dam Keeper” is based off a story within a novel called “Hans Brinker. The story is about a little Dutch boy that plugs a leaking dike with his finger, to save Haarlem from a flood. The pair were drawn to this narrative because they wanted to tell a story about an unsung hero, somebody who is working tirelessly and taking on responsibility that is bigger than they are.

Despite having some clear messages in it, both Kondo and Tsutsumi did their best not to say outright what is wrong or right, to make sure the film does not get too heavy handed. The film has some dark moments in it for an animated short film.

The “Dam Keeper” graphic novels are set after the film. The first one was released in the year 2017, and is Robert Kondo’s first published work. The books are meant for readers from ages nine to twelve. He also contributed to an Image Comics compilation called “Afterworks”.

“The Dam Keeper” is the first graphic novel in the “The Dam Keeper” series, which was released in the year 2017. Sunrise Valley life is tranquil, but outside its borders is certain death. There is a dangerous fog looming outside of the village, but the inhabitants of the town are safe because of the dam, an ingenious machine. Pig’s father constructed the windmill dam and instructed him on how to maintain it. Then, the brilliant inventor did something unthinkable. He walked right into the fog, and no one ever saw him again.

Pig is now the dam keeper, and has to keep the fog at bay. He also has to attend school. Save for Fox (who is his best friend), and Hippo (who is the town’s bully), there are not many who know about all the tireless work he has been doing to keep the fog away or the water from killing everyone. There is a new threat on the horizon, in the form of a tidal wave that is heading for Sunrise Valley. Pig, Fox, and Hippo have to face the biggest danger there is: the world that exists on the other side of the dam.

Readers like the characters, story, and the art. The artwork is able to transport you off to another world. Fans of the graphic novel enjoyed this a lot, wanting to know more about this world from the instant they started. It was pure mystery the entire way, and they could not put the book down for very long at all. By the time readers got to the end of the book, they were so captivated, they wanted to read more about these characters and get to know the world even more. Fox and Pig have a great friendship with each other, and hope to learn more about Fox’s character.

“World Without Darkness” is the second graphic novel in the “The Dam Keeper” series, which was released in the year 2018. On the other side of the dam, there is certain death. Everyone living in Sunrise Valley understands this. However, Fox, Hippo, and Pig get carried by a poisonous black tidal wave into the very wastelands they were told to avoid. The don’t find death. They actually find bustling cities, and each one has its own dam. Pig can’t help himself in wondering just who the dam keeper behind it all could have been.

He has no time to put this mystery together. That wave of lethal black fog is coming back to Sunrise Valley in just four days, and the dam there is not going to be able to withstand another attack on it. In a truck they stole and there is a deranged lizard leads the way. Pig and his buddies are racing against the clock. The question remains: will they be able to get back home in time?

Fans of the graphic novel enjoyed the art style of this a lot. The book has looming darkness, and it is interesting to see Kondo be able to do this with some cute animals with all the heavy feelings going around. This is a great graphic novel for younger readers to read as well. It is funny, creepy without being scary, and has some beautiful art in it. Pig has some really intriguing visions and some wanted to know more about them. What a dam keeper is was another question people had, and why everyone appears to live behind dams in this world.

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