Popeye 12 (April 2013)

Langridge goes out of his way to give the feature a distinct look. He’s got a lot more lines–for backgrounds–than the other Popeye artists usually use and it gives the story an aged quality. Langridge is crossing Popeye over with another comic strip character, Barney Google, and he takes it seriously. Castor and Wimpy are the real stars of the story. Popeye’s sturdy as usual–and there are some great lines from him for Olive to hear–but Castor and Wimpy’s individual schemes run off with the story. It’s also nice how Langridge constructs the narrative–he’s introducing Barney Google to everyone, which makes everything…

Popeye 11 (March 2013)

Bluto’s back in town, this time touring as a magician. Popeye and company go to the show, Wimpy gets a ventriloquist act going (show business means hamburgers) and general mayhem occurs. The issue’s as close to all-action as Langridge’s gotten on this series. There’s nothing else going on except Olive’s occasionally inappropriate comments about Bluto’s manliness. The pacing is a little odd because there’s so much Bluto throughout the issue. He’s being a very nasty guy and then Langridge forces the reader to spend time with him. There’s no good explanation why Popeye goes so easy on him in the first place….…

Popeye 10 (February 2013)

Langridge continues the odd trend. This issue, in Sappo, there’s this incredibly awful moment and Langridge plays it for laughs. It’s downright disturbing. Lovely art from Ken Wheaton though; a lot of the strip is charming. The Popeye feature is excellent, with Toar having to box Popeye to get citizenship. Everyone finds out the motive for the fight except Popeye; he spends a lot of the story depressed. It’s a genial little story. Langridge just lets the characters move gently through the story. Langridge plots these Popeye stories wonderfull; in between set pieces, he always makes room for character bits. Here, as…

Popeye 9 (January 2013)

It’s a strange issue. Not the Sappo backup so much, but the feature is just… unpleasant. A new burger sensation has hit town and Alice (she’s Swee’Pea nanny) doesn’t like it. Turns out Bluto is exploiting people in a third world country (or island) to produce the burgers, which are mushroom-based. It’s kind of hard not to read something into the situation Langridge presents; he still manages to turn in a satisfying Popeye story but it also makes one think. Or maybe I am just reading too much into it. Popeye gets most of the action and has a few nice character…

Popeye 8 (December 2012)

It’s a full-length adventure–Langridge breaks it out into three acts and follows through. I was a little surprised how carefully he plotted the third act; the issue runs on jokes, not the narrative, but Langridge keeps both going. Popeye’s dad has fallen for a younger woman and Popeye’s suspicious (act one). It turns out she’s after his hidden treasure and Poopdeck Pappy finally sees the light, teaming up with his son–and Olive and Wimpy–to foil her plot (act two). Then there’s the action-packed finish. Throughout, Langridge keeps the supporting cast fluid. People come in, people go–nice little Castor bit for the attentive…

Popeye 7 (November 2012)

Langridge drawing Popeye looks exactly like… Popeye. This issue’s the first Langridge does the art on too and I guess I was expecting something else. It’s great art, it’s just great Popeye art. Langridge never has ego problems so I don’t know why I’m surprised. The feature story has Popeye and Castor on a case (Olive and Wimpy come along too). There are a couple things for Popeye to punch, lots for Wimpy to eat and an old boyfriend for Olive to occasionally swoon over. Langridge isn’t reinventing the wheel, just making it as round and smooth as possible. He does a…

The Rocketeer: Hollywood Horror 4 (May 2013)

Everything ties up nicely for the finish. I’m still trying to determine how Langridge made this take on The Rocketeer. He’s turned Cliff into a young doofus, added Groucho Marx as the narrator and so on… yet it’s definitely the Rocketeer. There’s a big action scene to resolve everything. It takes most of the issue and Langridge has to fill it out with some minor twists and turns. Some of his intimations are still too vague for me–though I think maybe Doc Savage makes an appearance. Without being identified, of course. The Bone art probably does hurt the comic’s commercial viability–the non-realistic…

The Rocketeer: Hollywood Horror 3 (April 2013)

Oh, Langridge is just having too much fun now. He reveals the narrator–Groucho Marx. It’s a hilarious little detail; it doesn’t make any sense yet (how he’s omniscient but he’s Groucho so who cares). There also might a slight Return of the Jedi nod as far as Betty’s outfit goes. It’s a slower issue than normal, as Cliff has to figure things out. He’s not racing after Betty with believable speed–Langridge writes the characters differently. Cliff is a bit of a dunce. Betty’s the smarter one, which makes her constant peril an interesting contradiction. The hero is the damsel in distress. Even…

The Rocketeer: Hollywood Horror 2 (March 2013)

Langridge really embraces the Thin Man tie-in. It’s without names, instead of him doing thinly veined homages. It’s a nice touch, sending Betty off on her own adventure without Cliff. Actually, Betty’s got the much bigger story. She’s the one who has figured out there’s some creepiness with the Scientologist Cthulhu fan–sorry, Cosmicist–while Cliff’s basically just running around dumb. He’s on the run from Howard Hughes’s guys, who want to bring the jet-pack in for a tune up. There’s some more great work from Bone this issue. He’s got a lot of Rocketeer action, some great reaction shots between Cliff and Betty;…

The Rocketeer: Hollywood Horror 1 (February 2013)

In the past, I think I’ve referred to J. Bone as some kind of Darwyn Cooke wannabe. I take it back. I regret making those statements, though Hollywood Horror seems to be a breakthrough for him. He mixes old animation styles with comic strips to wonderful success. Even though she’s cartoony, Betty’s anger is real (and, since it’s Betty, her figure voluptuous). Cliff might be a square-jawed hero, but he’s real too–panic, excitement, aggravation. As for Roger Langridge’s script, it’s unsurprisingly divine. There’s humor, there’s a fantastic “dear reader” narrative device, there are cameos from Nick and Nora Charles. Langridge and Bone…

Popeye 6 (October 2012)

It’s a book length story. Langridge and artist Ken Wheaton do a great job of it too. Langridge probably could have rushed the story, but by taking the whole issue, he lets Wheaton’s art breath a little. The word balloons aren’t packed full of text. Wheaton is able to give conversations reaction shots, for example. The story concerns Popeye and company going to Hollywood to shoot a movie about Popeye’s life. Popeye’s the consultant… until he has to star too. So Langridge has time for three acts, even though he opens the issue with a flash forward showing Popeye in the picture…

Popeye 5 (September 2012)

It’s a parenting issue. There are two stories concerning Popeye’s parenting abilities. The first is a babysitting adventure. Swee’Pea goes missing, ending up on the wrong side of town and joining a gang. Swee’Pea, it turns out, is really good at knocking the fleas off dogs. While Ozella does a fine job with the art, the story’s strength comes from Langridge’s concentration on making the tale make sense in the comic strip mentality. He never encourages–or lets–one think too hard about it. To do so would be to miss the point. He also doesn’t have a lot of supporting cast cluttering. In…

Popeye 4 (August 2012)

The Popeye feature suffers a little from lack of intelligent characters. For a second, I thought Castor Oyl would prove smart; he does not. Wimpy does show intelligence… and never gets recognized for it. But Langridge never loses track of him, which is sort of a reward. Langridge loses track of everyone at some point in the story. It’s a very busy tale of a small (microscopic) kingdom Popeye and friends have to save. There’s lots of dialogue; Langridge wraps the exposition into the jokes beautifully. It’s well-written, it’s just a war story mixed with a detective story mixed with Popeye. It’s…

Snarked 12 (September 2012)

I guess Langridge gives Snarked a very grown-up ending. It fits with the fable tone he’s established, but it also got me all teary-eyed. It’s a philosophically rewarding finish, which isn’t the same thing as being an immediately pleasurable one. Langridge covers a lot of territory. There’s a lot more character development than one would expect for a final issue–he has something like three big scenes between the major characters. He also has time for the humor. I never mentioned the Chipmunk, who’s on the ship’s crew and is something of a ninja. She doesn’t do anything this issue, but she’s a…

Snarked 11 (August 2012)

Langridge goes all out this issue in terms of obviousness. It’s okay though, he’s earned the right to be forward. He deals with the Walrus’s character and the Royal Family’s family issues bluntly. And he makes great scenes out of them. In terms of the former, it’s not as blunt. There’s a great twist to reward the reader (and the Walrus). But the family stuff is blunt because it needs to be. Scarlett has to carry too much and the weight reaches its apex towards the end of the issue. The beauty of Snarked (and Langridge) is the issue isn’t over yet.…

Snarked 10 (July 2012)

Langridge comes up with some rather unexpected turns this issue. He opens it with a couple asides, first a reference to the occupy movement with the evil royalty back home, then the Gryphon running the pirate ship, before catching up with the main cast on Snark Island. This issue isn’t as full as the last one, but Langridge still has some major events before the pirates arrive. I’m not spoiling, it’s on the cover. There’s a lot of nice character work with the Walrus. Langridge’s intentions with him are so clear, the captain can even see them and comments on them. Snarked…

Snarked 9 (June 2012)

This issue is gloriously full. The cast arrives on Snark Island and Langridge sets them out exploring. But the captain has been to the island before, which leads to him remembering geographic features. Then there are the bickering lion and unicorn guards, then there’s the missing king…. It goes on and on, so much so the cliffhanger comes as a surprise. Langridge has already put his characters through two major challenges; one would expect him to let up a little. There’s a lot of great character work in the issue too. McDunk magically becomes smart on the island, leading to some good…

Snarked 8 (May 2012)

Langridge brings the arc–it’s a journey arc, which is somewhat unexpected since there are so few navigation references in the issues–to a close. Once again, Langridge focuses on the action of the issue. The evil Gryphon finds the heroes and sets loose a sea monster on the ship. And, once again, Langridge uses it as an opportunity to develop the Walrus as a character. There are little character bits throughout the issue, but the end clarifies–it’s all about the Walrus. For that ending, Langridge unexpectedly promotes one of the supporting cast to more of a main role. Snarked has been relatively static…