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Sergio Aragonés Funnies #2

September 15, 2011 Leave a comment

September 4, 2011

Title: A Somewhat Familiar Story and other (less familiar) stories

Writer: Sergio Aragonés
Art:
Sergio Aragonés
Colorist:
Tom Luth
Letterer:
Karen Bates
Cover Artist:
Sergio Aragonés
Editor:
Bill Morrison
Publisher:
Bongo Comics

It’s another month, and three more short stories by comedic master Sergio Aragonés! First up, we get “A Somewhat Familiar Story.” In this wordless tale, a ship finds an island inhabited by strange natives who offer up a beautiful young woman to an enormous gorilla held behind a huge wooden gate. The story takes an unexpected twist at the end, though, making this King Kong knock-off a true Aragonés original.

Next is “My First Peso,” the tale of how Aragonés first got paid for his artwork. It’s a charming tale, the kind of thing that a lot of kids probably tell. I really like how Aragonés is working in some autobiography into this series, and especially how he’s able to make these stories funny, while still getting into some emotional content (such as when young Sergio has to admit to his mother he “found” a new toy).

The final story, though, “Kira and the Beauty Contest.” In this sci-fi yarn we meet Kira, a hideous young girl whose ugliness makes her an outcast throughout the galaxy… until she discovers the planet Earth. On this distant world, all the inhabitants look just like her, and Kira leaps at the chance to visit. But Aragonés again has a twist for us. I just loved this very unexpected story. It’s the sort of thing you would have seen in The Twilight Zone if it were a comedy.

The book is also packed with black-and-white one-page gags and two activity pages. Aragonés even draws one of the ads in the book, a Yoplait Go-Gurt piece on the last page. It was unexpected, and gave us a bonus comic strip that was just as funny as anything else in the issue. This book was just all kinds of fun.

Rating: 8/10

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Futurama Comics #45

September 6, 2011 Leave a comment

October 2, 2009

Futurama Comics #45 (Bongo Comics)
By Patric M. Verrone & James Lloyd

Futurama Comics is one of those books that can be great one month and mediocre the next. After a couple of off issues, “Anthology of Interest II” is one of the best in quite some time. Professor Farnsworth has pulled out his “What If?” Machine yet again, and we’re treated to some really funny wish fulfillment fantasies from the Planet Express staff: Bender as president of Earth, Leela in love with Fry, and everybody turning into lobster-creatures like Zoidberg are all gems, although Hermes’ vision of a world in perfect order provides an excellent running gag. Verrone and Lloyd step up and provide a highly entertaining shot of Futurama.
Rating: 8/10

Futurama Comics #43

August 9, 2011 Leave a comment

May 29, 2009

Futurama Comics #43 (Bongo Comics)
By Ian Boothby & John Delaney

After a couple of weak issues, Futurama Comics really bounces back this month with one of the better issues of the series.Some banking issues sends Fry looking for a second job. After a few highly amusing flops (complete with highly amusing cameo guests) he settles on a job as an in-dream salesman. His sales wind up showing him a hidden desire of Leela’s, and Fry being the sweet guy that he is, tries to bring it to fruition. This really feels like a plot that could have been done on the TV show. The characterization is solid, and the gags hit pretty quickly. Lots of sight gags, lots of verbal jokes, and they all work well together. I was getting nervous about this series, to be frank, but with this issue it appears to be bouncing back.
Rating: 8/10

Futurama Comics #36

May 8, 2011 1 comment

Futurama Comics #36 (Bongo Comics)
By Ian Boothby & Mike Kazaleh

This is a particularly sharp issue of Futurama Comics. Fry, Leela and Bender take a trip to the all-robot planet of New England (as opposed to New New England, with its oceans of clam chowder) and wind up in the midst of a murder mystery. Back on Earth, Amy, Zoidberg and Hermes — frustrated that they get left out of the A-team’s adventures — set out to the sewers to have an adventure of their own. The B-team’s plot is basically an extended gag strip with a hysterical, and totally unexpected punchline. The A-team’s story is sharp, but not as sharp. Ian Boothby uses the story as an excuse to inundate us with jokes about British pop culture, which are fun, but don’t make for quite as cohesive a story. Still, this is one of the better issues of the comic, and it feels more like a real episode of the show than many of them do.
Rating: 7/10

Somebody’s First Comic Book: Futurama Comics #54

April 18, 2011 2 comments

Wondering what Somebody’s First Comic Book is all about? The explanation is on this page!

TITLE: How Much is That Mutant In the Window?

CREDITS:
Writer: Eric Rogers
Penciller:
James Lloyd
Inker:
Andrew Pepoy
Colors:
Alan Hellard
Letters:
Karen Bates
Editor:
Bill Morrison
Publisher:
Bongo Comics

PRIOR KNOWLEDGE: Wasn’t Futurama that science fiction version of the Simpsons from, like, ten years ago?

IMPRESSIONS: I guess it’s something like that, anyway. We start off with a dude named Fry, a robot named Bender, a one-eyed chick called Leela and a little monster-thing called Nibbler, visiting a planet where people are playing with all of their weird alien pets. Leela, who apparently is the one in this group with the brain, is kidnapped, and the others have their spaceship towed back to Earth, where they find themselves completely unable to take care of Nibbler. As it turns out, though, Nibbler is evidently super-intelligent, something that he says he’s revealed to Fry and Bender before, but he always erases the knowledge from their memory. As it turns out, Leela has been put in a pet shop for giant aliens, and Nibbler leads them on a rescue mission.

The story is pretty funny, but I definitely got the impression that I was being left out of the joke. There were a ton of comments and references that I think probably will make sense to people who watched the TV show or read the comic book before, but they went right past me. We don’t get to know the characters that well either. They come off much more as stereotypes, intended as a method to deliver jokes instead of telling a really in-depth story.

There’s also a back-up story…

TITLE: Rank Call!

CREDITS:
Writer: Eric Rogers
Penciller:
Mike Kazaleh
Inker:
Phyllis Novin
Colors:
Nathan Hamill
Letters:
Karen Bates
Editor:
Bill Morrison

IMPRESSIONS: In “Rank Call” we meet an imbecilic space captain named Brannigan and his milquetoast assistant Kif. Kif saves the day during an invasion, gets promoted to captain, and is given a crew that’s equally wimpy. It’s funny enough, but like the main story, it doesn’t really give me a feeling for who these characters are or why I should care about them.

GRADE: C

Futurama Comics #42

March 19, 2011 Leave a comment

April 11, 2009
Futurama Comics #42 (Bongo Comics)
By Patric C.W. Verrone & James Lloyd

There’s been a rash of theft and vandalism around Planet Express, and for once, Bender isn’t responsible. The theft of Fry’s late dog, Seymour, leads the crew to a planet of Canines who have come to worship the petrified pup as their god… and God is telling them to invade the planet Earth. This is an okay issue. The story is pretty good, the sort of thing you could easily imagine being done on the TV show. Verrone‘s script is extremely pun-heavy, which starts out funny, but kind of wears thin by the end. I’m a big fan of really bad puns, don’t misunderstand, but there’s such a thing as moderation. Lloyd‘s art is strong, on-model, and full of nice little visual gags, especially the two-page spread that shows the humans being dominated by the Canines. An improvement over last issue, but I’ve seen better.
Rating: 7/10

Spongebob Comics #1

March 15, 2011 Leave a comment

March 13, 2011

Title: Waking Up is Hard to Do and other stories

Writers: Graham Annable, Chris Duffy, James Kochalka, Bob Flynn, David Lewman, Robert Leighton, Corey Barbra
Pencils:
Gregg Schigiel, Andy Rementer, Hilary Barta, Bob Flynn, Jacob Chabot, Vince DePorter, Corey Barbra
Inks:
Adam Dekraker, Hilary Barta, Jacob Chabot
Colorist:
Rick Neilsen, Mark Martin, Wes Dzioba
Letterer:
Comicraft
Cover:
Sherm Cohen
Publisher:
Bongo Comics/United Plankton Pictures

After 12 years of television dominance, Spongebob Squarepants has finally made his way to the comic book page. Judging from the initial offering, however, he may have been better served by taking his time and doing it right.

This first issue contains several short stories and a couple of activity pages, none of which really deliver to any substantial degree. Part of that is a fundamental issue with the property itself. Spongebob’s brand of humor is very fast-paced and very slapstick… it’s “beat, beat, joke! Beat, beat, joke!” Which works just fine on the television. The first eight pages, though, show conclusively that it doesn’t work in a comic book. If this tale about Spongebob tackling one dream after another one were, instead,  the storyboard for an episode of the cartoon, it could have been a pretty good one, but this story just has no punch.

Halfway through the book we get the one really solid story, a Squidward tale in which our favorite grouchy squid struggles with an irritating song that gets stuck in his head and starts following him around. Stories about music are always tough in a visual medium like a comic book, but writer David Lewman delivers with this one.

The one thing that keeps the score here relatively high is the good artwork on the main stories.  Several of the artists who contribute to this volume manage to give us sharp, on-model depictions of Spongebob and his crew. But the shorts go in the opposite direction, to the point where I don’t even think I’d recognize all of the characters if not for the appropriate colors.

When Disney comics started being created in the early 40s, it was clear that the formula that makes for a Disney cartoon doesn’t work in a comic book. The creators had to keep the core of the characters intact while seeking out a new way to tell stories about them. The result is that the Donald Duck we see in his greatest cartoons is somewhat different from the Donald in his greatest comics, and the story styles are drastically different. The creators of Spongebob Comics need to figure out a  way to do the same with this title, or it just won’t give even the most dedicated of readers a reason to pick it up every other month.

Rating: 5/10