Betty Boop 1 (October 2016)

Betty Boop #1

Upon reading this first issue of Roger Langridge and Gisèle Lagacé’s Betty Boop relaunch, it occurred to me I have never seen a full “Betty Boop” cartoon. I have no idea what to expect from it. What the comic delivers is some cute jokes and some cute songs. Betty Boop’s more the subject of the comic than the protagonist, which makes it a little weird.

But it’s a fine comic. I don’t know how excited I’d be if it weren’t Langridge–I hope he someday can get an album together of all these songs he’s been doing over the years in comics. Lagacé’s art is solid. Betty Boop as a character has a lot more polish than any of the other ones in the book and it almost seems like a licensing thing.

The story has to do with ghosts and evil lizards and home foreclosures. It’s not as imaginatively plotted as those elements would need to come off; again, I don’t know Boop so maybe Langridge is pacing it off the cartoons?

It does not, however, get me interested in watching “Betty Boop” cartoons at all, which I sort of thing I should be doing.

CREDITS

Enter the Lizard; writer, Roger Langridge; artist and letterer, Gisèle Lagacé; colorist, Ma. Victoria Robado; editors, Anthony Marques and Joseph Rybandt; publisher, Dynamite Entertainment.

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The Baker Street Peculiars 4 (June 2016)

The Baker Street Peculiars #4

As it turns out, I was silly to worry about Baker Street. Langridge has a wonderful conclusion for the series–a little more aimed towards the trade read, but wonderful nonetheless.

Langridge resolves the immediate story in the first third of the comic (or something approximating between third and half) and it’s mostly an opportunity for Hirsch’s art. It’s all action, with a concise visual pacing. The kids have to take down the army of Golems in a fantastic sequence.

But then the comic changes gears as it heads for the finale. Langridge isn’t as interested in the resolution of the Golem invasion as he is in his characters (specifically Molly). Hirsch and Langridge pack the panels with information–foreground and background–as the whole thing turns into an actual argument over responsibility and gender stereotypes.

Once the danger is resolved, Langridge isn’t done. Sure, Hirsch doesn’t get a lot to do in the denouement, but he’s got enough to do and Baker Street is too busy having fantastic dialogue. Langridge has a phenomenal knack for pacing out an argument, which he shows twice this issue.

I’ll have to read Baker Street Peculiars again someday, in a single sitting. But it’s already a significant success in the floppies.

Oh, yeah, there’s a whole Sherlock Holmes deconstruction thing going on too.

CREDITS

The Case of the Cockney Golem, Chapter Four: The Battle of Brick Lane; writer, Roger Langridge; artist and letterer, Andy Hirsch; colorist, Fred Stressing; editors, Cameron Chittock and Sierra Hahn; publisher, KaBOOM!

The Baker Street Peculiars 3 (May 2016)

The Baker Street Peculiars #3

It’s more a cute issue than anything else, which is kind of strange. But it’s Langridge reinforcing the relationship between the kids when he ought to be doing more with them and the plot. Instead, he locks them up for most of the issue until they argue out all their problems. It’s not a talking heads book, but all the tension is their relationship dynamics not their actual danger. It’s weird.

And it’s fine. Langridge does a fine job with it. It’s weird, yes, it feels like meandering, but it’s still well written. He does make the characters more likable, make their relationships stronger. He just doesn’t get anything done while he’s doing it. Peculiars loses a layer.

Good art from Hirsch. He gets to imply a lot more than he gets to actually render for most of the issue. When he does finally cut loose, there’s some glorious golem-ized statues terrorizing London.

Peculiars is a fine comic. It just doesn’t seem to be living up to my expectations of its potential.

CREDITS

The Case of the Cockney Golem, Chapter Three: The Old, Hard Cell; writer, Roger Langridge; artist and letterer, Andy Hirsch; colorist, Fred Stressing; editors, Cameron Chittock and Sierra Hahn; publisher, KaBOOM!

The Baker Street Peculiars 2 (April 2016)

The Baker Street Peculiars #2

I’m not sure what Langridge is shooting for as far as minimum age requirement for Baker Street. It’s a fine issue, with great art from Hirsch and some wonderful scenes from Langridge, but it gets rough. And one of the Peculiars seems to be ten or eleven and, I don’t know… it just seems scary. I found it disturbing, I mean. Langridge ostensibly kills off a couple characters on page.

Ostensibly because maybe they could recover from their deaths in a later issue. There’s magic involved, very inventive magic. Langridge does Baker Street with thirties enthusiasm, Sherlock Holmes enthusiasm and magic enthusiasm. Very specific magic enthusiasm, which he’s excited to share. The comic doesn’t feel didactic but it feels quite smart.

The first half of the issue, bringing all the Peculiars back together, sending them to get their mission–it’s real strong. Langridge and Hirsch don’t have anything but good moments. There’s a charm in the writing, a charm in the art. They’re similar but different enough for Baker Street to have just the right level of enthusiasm. Even though everything in the second half is good, it’s never as seamless as the first. Langridge gets a little lost in all the exposition, then the severe danger.

But it’s a dang good comic regardless.

CREDITS

The Case of the Cockney Golem, Chapter Two: The Lion, the Lord, & the Landlady; writer, Roger Langridge; artist and letterer, Andy Hirsch; colorist, Fred Stressing; editors, Cameron Chittock and Sierra Hahn; publisher, KaBOOM!

The Baker Street Peculiars 1 (March 2016)

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The Baker Street Peculiars is pure delight. Of course it is. Baker Street is Roger Langridge finding a wonderful collaborator in artist Andy Hirsch. Both creators have separate enthusiasms for the comic, in addition to where their enthusiasms coincide. The setting, for example, is a place where Langridge and Hirsch both find ways to get excited about their respective contributions. Langridge has all sorts of narrative and dialogue flourishes, while Hirsch has them on the art. The book has a fantastic energy.

Langridge opens in the middle of a chase sequence, bringing the three leads together. They’re an ideally mismatched bunch–shop-keeper’s granddaughter, rich kid, Bengali street urchin–who are each adventurers, but almost in a non-fantastical “kid’s adventure” sort of way. Their team-up leads them into a truly great adventure. Though, as Langridge and Hirsch have fun showing, any adventuring in 1930s London is going to be pretty awesome.

Of course, I’m not talking about everything with the book because I’m not sure where it’s going to go next issue. If the big twist–which is beautifully handled–is resolved next issue, I’ll spoil. Otherwise, I’m waiting until the finish. Needless to say, Langridge does wonders with the expectations he and Hirsch build throughout the comic to deal with the twist. It’s expertly done.

CREDITS

The Case of the Cockney Golem, Chapter One: A Beast in Baker Street; writer, Roger Langridge; artist and letterer, Andy Hirsch; colorist, Fred Stressing; editors, Cameron Chittock and Sierra Hahn; publisher, KaBOOM!

Garbage Pail Kids: Gross Encounters of the Turd Kind (June 2015)

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IDW has been on a terrific run all this year of bimonthly Garbage Pail Kids specials – not yet an official continuing series but they’re now up to their fourth themed installment, with at least one more on the way. The roll call of artists who’ve contributed to these humor anthologies is impeccable, and their renditions of the beloved 80s pop culture landmark are characteristically stunning. I never thought I’d someday read Garbage Pail Kids strips by Peter Bagge, Dean Haspiel, Bill Wray, Shannon Wheeler or any of the many stylistically diverse cartoonists who take these gimmick based spoofs of a long-forgotten saccharine 80s toy line and populate an insular comedic world out of them. The stories are all a few quick pages of inventively gross humor in the irreverently and subversively juvenile spirit of those original trading cards. It’s a perfect humor comic format and is far less horrifying than placing Mark Newgarden’s Basil Wolverton Babies into our reality, as in The Garbage Pail Kids Movie.

Gross Encounters of the Turd Kind opens with some Topps-on-Topps violence as Mars Attacks Martians disintegrate a cityfull of Garbage Pail Kids with art by Hilary Barta and Doug Rice, who nail the balance of the two character designs. There’s a decent parody by Ryan Browne and Andrew Elder of The Thing, testing farts instead of blood. James Kochalka does a story starring Joe Blow – a GPK parody of Bazooka Joe, making this issue the closest Topps has ever come to a “Topps Comics Presents” comic book. For now they’ll have to be content with their precedent of having licensed the only two trading card based films in existence.

Kochalka’s talent for whimsy is in such typically pleasing form, one doesn’t even notice at first that unlike every other author in this series before him, he doesn’t depict anything grosser than ABC gum. Joe Simko, who’s contributed quality work in every special so far, does a quickie two-pager of snotty sneezing aliens. The closing story is Roger Langridge doing an astronaut and his robot sidekick on a turd planet of alien flies. It’s really touching to read a children’s cartoonist as accomplished as Langridge graduating to doody jokes with the Garbage Pail Kids.

IDW’s Garbage Pail Kids specials continue to be outstanding love letters to the phenomenon by a roster of amazing cartoonists, an absolute pleasure for longtime fans.

CREDITS

Writers and artists, Hillary Barta, Doug Rice, Ryan Browne, Andrew Elder, James Kochalka, Joe Simko and Roger Langridge; colorists, Jason Millet, Shawn Lee and Andrew Elder; letterers, Shawn Lee and Denny Tipton; editor, Denny Tipton; publisher, IDW Publishing.

Abigail and the Snowman 4 (March 2015)

Abigail and the Snowman #4

Langridge, no surprise, concludes Abigail and the Snowman beautifully. It’s a double-sized issue, which is good since the first half of it is mostly Abigail and Claude hanging out as they walk him to the boat to take him back to the Himalayas.

While they have that awesome hangout time–one of the most masterful things Langridge does in Abigail is control the characters and how they interact in front of the reader. The issue has six characters in it–but mostly five (along with two small speak parts). It’s very deliberately told and very impressive how Langridge is able to make that walk with Abigail and Claude so rewarding.

But Langridge still has to finish the series (the extra space lets him spend that hangout time, not necessarily just do all action) and he does it well. With some nice quiet surprises.

It’s a confident, delightful, rewarding conclusion.

CREDITS

Writer, artist, letterer, Roger Langridge; colorist, Fred Stresing; editors, Cameron Chittock and Rebecca Taylor; publisher, KaBOOM!.

Abigail and the Snowman 3 (February 2015)

Abigail and the Snowman #3

This issue of Abigail and the Snowman is Langridge’s strongest–it’s also the penultimate issue and the one where it’s clear Langridge could definitely keep this going longer. The issue’s kind of high adventure; it’s the expository in front of high adventure, but thanks to Langridge’s abilities, it moves beautifully.

The issue’s full of fantastic moments for Abigail. He even develops her father’s character through the interactions with her. It’s exceptionally thoughtful stuff. Langridge doesn’t even save his big moments for full page panels (just the action); the little character stuff he has in small panels, never breaking stride to draw attention to himself.

The entire comic takes place–with the exception of a few pages of Abigail and Claude playing–in one night. And not a long night. Langridge gets in a bunch of information (including Claude’s flashback) and keeps that great pace.

It’s great stuff, page after page.

CREDITS

Writer, artist, letterer, Roger Langridge; colorist, Fred Stresing; editors, Cameron Chittock and Rebecca Taylor; publisher, KaBOOM!.

Abigail and the Snowman 2 (January 2015)

Abigail and the Snowman #2

Abigail and the Snowman continues with Langridge a little more focused than last time. The story takes place over a couple days, with Claude (the Yeti) going with Abigail to school on her birthday.

Langridge actually fits in a bunch of information–both through dialogue, like Abigail talking briefly about her deceased mother, and through implication, Abigail’s father not letting her go to work. Meanwhile, there are the Men in Black trying to find Claude, who’s a big hit with all of Abigail’s new classmates (they can see Yeti, adults cannot).

The issue’s pacing is phenomenal; Langridge gets in multiple set pieces, including elaborate ones like Abigail arriving at school with Claude and his later run-in with the Men in Black. It’s a full issue, but there’s also a nice density to the stuff around the scenes. Langridge even trusts the reader to remember a throwaway line.

It’s superb.

CREDITS

Writer, artist, letterer, Roger Langridge; colorist, Fred Stresing; editor, Rebecca Taylor; publisher, KaBOOM!.

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