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!.

Abigail and the Snowman 1 (December 2014)

Abigail and the Snowman #1

Abigail and the Snowman feels very familiar. Roger Langridge does a beautiful job with the artwork, which has a bunch of great montage sequences and sight gags. The art is great. And a lot of the writing is good. Really good. All of the writing is good, occasionally it’s really good.

Occasionally too, however, the comic feels like a fresh take on a standard situation. Abigail is the new girl at school, she has a single parent–her dad, she sort of has to take care of him, she doesn’t make friends easily. There’s nothing interesting in the ground situation Langridge is setting up. A lot of it is stale.

The titular Snowman appears towards the end of the issue. Presumably he’ll figure in more in subsequent issues…

It’s a good comic from Langridge, but it never even approaches sublime. It’s too constructed, too self-aware of its selling points.

CREDITS

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

The Fez 2 (September 2013)

The Fez #2

The Fez is, unsurprisingly, a lot of fun. The longest story in the issue has the Fez helping exorcize the queen of England. It comes in the middle of the comic, after Langridge has done some smaller stories establishing the Fez as something of a buffoon. There's a great Twitter-related joke to show just how out of it the Fez can get; he's an invisible man, so who knows what kind of stresses he's under.

But the Queen story moves fast and unexpectedly–The Fez is a very British comic, one of the most British things I've read from Langridge–and he doesn't slow down for the reader. The jokes get their own space, but Langridge doesn't make any extra.

The final story has the Fez versus a bunch of his foes, in something of a Spirit homage. It works out too.

It's just a solid little book from Langridge. Very pleasing.

B 

CREDITS

Writer, artist and letterer, Roger Langridge; publisher, Hotel Fred Press.

Captain America/Thor: The Mighty Fighting Avengers (May 2011)

Captain America/Thor: The Mighty Fighting Avengers

It's not a complicated story–writer Roger Langridge sends Captain America (from World War II) and Thor (from the present day) back to Camelot. They discover Loki has wormed his way into King Arthur's court and there's some trouble.

Good thing there are a couple superheroes to deal with it.

Langridge doesn't worry about establishing the relationship between Cap and Thor, he moves right into Loki, the Knights of the Round Table and the adventure. He's got a lovely Empire Strikes Back homage going too for the heroes versus a three-headed dragon. You'll just have to read it.

At its core–with Chris Samnee on the art, doing a wonderful job–it's an issue of Thor: The Mighty Avenger with Cap (the Fighting Avenger version) thrown in. Langridge does make a little time for a Thor and Jane character development subplot and, while lovely, it begs for more.

So it's a functional success.

B+ 

CREDITS

Once and Future Avengers!; writer, Roger Langridge; artist, Chris Samnee; colorist, Matthew Wilson; letterer, Rus Wooton; editors, Sana Amanat and Michael Horwitz; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Rocky and Bullwinkle 4 (June 2014)

Rocky and Bullwinkle #4

Once again, Evanier seems to be running out of ideas–at least for what to do with his titular characters. Even the Dudley Do-Right story has Dudley reduced to a brief walk on appearance. Though the whole horse thing is back, which is awkwardly hilarious.

But for the feature, it’s Rocky and Bullwinkle against Boris and Natasha–this time it’s a hamburger war. Evanier spends forever setting up the scheme from the villains and then has to quickly wrap it up in the second half of the story without Rocky or Bullwinkle getting much to do.

I apologize for that lengthy sentence.

There’s nothing particularly great about the story or even the art. Langridge does a fine job and gets to do some variety, but there’s not a lot of enthusiasm. Or anything to get particularly enthusiastic about. Hamburgers aren’t visually exciting, no matter what.

It’s a decent finish.

B 

CREDITS

Writer, Mark Evanier; penciller and letterer, Roger Langridge; inker, Dan Davis; colorist, Jeremy Colwell; editor, Sarah Gaydos; publisher, IDW Publishing.

Rocky and Bullwinkle 3 (May 2014)

Rocky and Bullwinkle #3

What a splendid comic. I’m not sure of any other word for it. Between the two parts of the feature story, involving Rocky and Bullwinkle having to go to the moon to stop Pottsylvania from claiming it (and taxing anyone looking at it or talking about it or saying it–oops, looks like I owe), and the Dudley Do-Right story, Evanier and Langridge hit a home run.

The only questionable joke–in a comic with NASA jokes, no less–is when they get to the moon and there’s a one liner about moon restaurants having no atmosphere. It’s one of the first moon jokes and it seems like Evanier’s going to go the easy route. Instead, it’s a one off and it works because of it.

Great plot twists too. Not just in the feature but in Dudley Do-Right too.

Also–nice June Foray reference.

Moon-rockin’ stuff.

A 

CREDITS

Writer, Mark Evanier; artist and letterer, Roger Langridge; colorist, Jeremy Colwell; editor, Sarah Gaydos; publisher, IDW Publishing.

Rocky and Bullwinkle 2 (April 2014)

Rocky and Bullwinkle #2

Something is amiss in Frostbite Falls.

Evanier keeps his structure from the first issue–first part of Rocky and Bullwinkle, Dudley Do-Right, then the second part of Rocky. Only this time, the first part of the feature is weak. It feels tired, down to all the references to post-smartphone soullessness. Rocky and Bullwinkle come across a magician who can’t get a job anymore and, dang, if it’s not all apps and CGI’s fault.

The cliffhanger’s too deliberate and then the Dudley Do-Right tries too hard for a single laugh. It gets two but the first is mostly because of goodwill. By the end, the goodwill’s gone.

Then the second half of the feature is even worse than the first. Evanier reduces Rocky to an almost dialogue-free part in the feature and the narration is terrible.

Langridge doesn’t bother mustering much enthusiasm.

It’s a pedestrian licensed comic, which the first issue wasn’t.

C 

CREDITS

Writer, Mark Evanier; artist and letterer, Roger Langridge; colorist, Jeremy Colwell; editor, Sarah Gaydos; publisher, IDW Publishing.

Rocky and Bullwinkle 1 (March 2014)

Rocky & Bullwinkle #1

I can’t decide if Rocky & Bullwinkle should or shouldn’t work as a comic book. Conceptually, I mean. I suppose I should mention it does work–and very well. Writer Mark Evanier and artist Roger Langridge adapt the source material’s sensibilities for the comics medium, which is exactly the way to go about adapting a property from another medium… yet so few ever do it.

The all-knowing narrator works well in exposition boxes; Evanier ups it with Bullwinkle becoming psychic. His predictions interact both with the narrative and how Langridge illustrates that narrative. Very cool stuff.

As for Langridge, I notice he’s working in a lot of simple, but intricate background activity. He’s keeping the reader’s eyes consuming even when the principals aren’t doing a lot.

And then there’s the Dudley Do-Right intermediate story. Evanier sets it up as a series of really funny, somewhat inappropriate jokes.

It’s an excellent comic.

A 

CREDITS

Writer, Mark Evanier; artist and letterer, Roger Langridge; colorist, Jeremy Colwell; editor, Sarah Gaydos; publisher, IDW Publishing.

Popeye 12 (April 2013)

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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 seem so fresh. It’s a good one….

But it can’t compare to the backup. It’s Popeye and Swee’Pea at a carnival. Langridge brackets the story with Popeye writing to Swee’Pea’s mom. It’s touching, it’s funny, it’s perfect.

Langridge continues to make Popeye outstanding.

CREDITS

A Horse of a Different Color. Letter to Momma. Writer, artist, colorist and letterer, Roger Langridge; editors, Ted Adams, Craig Yoe and Clizzia Gussoni; publisher, IDW Publishing.

Popeye 11 (March 2013)

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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….

Still, there’s a lot of charm to the story. Langridge excels at writing Wimpy; Pappy and Toar have good moments too. It’s just Langridge doesn’t know how to keep Bluto present without it being awkward.

The end gag is excellent, especially since Langridge builds it so carefully.

CREDITS

The Conniving Conjurer; writer, Roger Langridge; artist and letterer, Vince Musacchia; colorist, Luke McDonnell; editors, Ted Adams, Craig Yoe and Clizzia Gussoni; publisher, IDW Publishing.

Popeye 10 (February 2013)

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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 it tends to be, it’s Wimpy. Langridge lets Toar have the first act to himself and he’s a good protagonist. What’s also lovely is how Langridge paces the story–it takes place over a few days–he does really well with summary storytelling.

But Sappo’s still nuts.

CREDITS

American Toar; artist and letterer, Vince Musacchia; Ant Music; artist and letterer, Ken Wheaton. Writer, Roger Langridge; colorist, Luke McDonnell; editors, Ted Adams, Craig Yoe and Clizzia Gussoni; publisher, IDW Publishing.

The Fez 1 (May 2013)

The fez roger langradge

With nine to ten pages of actual content (the count depends on what constitutes content), Roger Langridge doesn’t have a lot of time in the first issue of The Fez. The cover, with its booming title design, vaguely reminds of The Spirit and the first page does have a recap of the Fez’s villains. They’re very funny villains.

None of them appear in the rest of the issue. The first story has the Fez haunting a thief–three glorious pages. Langridge turns nine very short lines of narration into a very amusing little story. The Fez, you see, is an invisible person wearing a fez, hence the title.

The bigger story involves the Fez doing experiments–to regain his visibility I assumed but Langridge doesn’t address it–and having a hallucinogenic journey.

The comic’s an art tour de force, but Langridge is so good at precise narrative, it’s sublime too.

CREDITS

Writer, artist and letterer, Roger Langridge; publisher, Hotel Fred Press.

Popeye 9 (January 2013)

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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 moments; Wimpy does have his moments, of course. Toar is working out to be a fun addition too.

The Sappo backup, for the first time, doesn’t eclipse the feature. It’s a cute story about a ice sculpture invention of the Professor’s. Ozella’s got some great panels too.

CREDITS

The Right Schtuff or Tears of a Goon or Miracle Meat; artist and letterer, Ken Wheaton. Feast Your Ice on This; artist and letterer, Bruce Ozella. Writer, Roger Langridge; colorist, Luke McDonnell; editors, Ted Adams, Craig Yoe and Clizzia Gussoni; publisher, IDW Publishing.

Popeye 8 (December 2012)

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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 reader. The issue feels nice and full, even though it’s a breezy read.

Vince Musacchia packs the pages with panels too. He works up these great little (in size) panels, which read a lot bigger than they measure.

Popeye’s delightful as usual.

CREDITS

Vamped! Or The Fall of Poopdeck Pappy; writer, Roger Langridge; artist and letterer, Vince Musacchia; colorist, Luke McDonnell; editors, Ted Adams, Craig Yoe and Clizzia Gussoni ; publisher, IDW Publishing.

Popeye 7 (November 2012)

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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 great job with Castor, turning him into the reader’s stand-in in the story. He can’t overplay him, but he could use him more, he does so well.

The backup, involving a mechanical cow, is–as usual–funnier. Langridge’s only got to sets up joke, not a narrative.

CREDITS

The Beast of Desolation Gulch or The Case of the Desert Yeti. The Cow of Tomorrow!. Writer, artist and letterer, Roger Langridge; colorist, Luke McDonnell; editors, Ted Adams, Craig Yoe and Clizzia Gussoni ; publisher, IDW Publishing.

The Rocketeer: Hollywood Horror 4 (May 2013)

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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 comic strip influenced art doesn’t scream sales–but it’s impossible to imagine the series without it.

Langridge and Bone should be very proud. There are all sorts of great little details, but the overall result is outstanding too. It’s an excellent series, start to finish.

CREDITS

A Night at the Altar; writer, Roger Langridge; artist, J. Bone; colorist, Jordie Bellaire; letterer, Tom B. Long; editor, Scott Dunbier; publisher, IDW Publishing.

The Rocketeer: Hollywood Horror 3 (April 2013)

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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 villain’s big reveal scene works beautifully. Langridge and Bone work beautifully together.

The film has a lot of the Golden Age Hollywood feel to it. That Hollywood setting permeates throughout; it’s one of Langridge’s finest achievements on the book. He never forcibly includes the details.

CREDITS

In the Soup; writer, Roger Langridge; artist, J. Bone; colorist, Jordie Bellaire; letterer, Tom B. Long; editor, Scott Dunbier; publisher, IDW Publishing.

The Rocketeer: Hollywood Horror 2 (March 2013)

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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; that whole vibe, from cartoon broadness to comic strip focus, continues here, if not amplifies.

While Langridge does follow the general IDW Rocketeer continuity, Hollywood Horror never feels forcibly tied in. They’re creating their own thing; so far, better than anyone else has done.

CREDITS

These Troubled Times; writer, Roger Langridge; artist, J. Bone; colorist, Jordie Bellaire; letterer, Tom B. Long; editor, Scott Dunbier; publisher, IDW Publishing.

The Rocketeer: Hollywood Horror 1 (February 2013)

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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 also throw in a Einstein stand-in and some Lovecraft.

It’s fast and fun, with some amusing Rocketeer heroics–which the creators use to subtly add in direct references to the subplots.

There’s a lot going on–too much to even identify the main plot yet.

CREDITS

The Rocketeer vs. the Hollywood Horror; writer, Roger Langridge; artist, J. Bone; colorist, Jordie Bellaire; letterer, Tom B. Long; editor, Scott Dunbier; publisher, IDW Publishing.

Popeye 6 (October 2012)

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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 itself. One reads it just waiting for Popeye and company to take over the film production. It’s a nicely paced wait.

The issue also reads a little different because more of the cast seems self-aware. Not Popeye or Wimpy, but definitely Olive and Castor. Oh, and Bluto.

CREDITS

The Popeye the Sailor Story; writer, Roger Langridge; artist and letterer, Ken Wheaton; colorist, Luke McDonnell; editors, Ted Adams, Craig Yoe and Clizzia Gussoni; publisher, IDW Publishing.

Popeye 5 (September 2012)

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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 the second story, he does. Popeye’s drawing Swee’Pea a comic strip and the supporting cast stops by to help. That usage works though–they aren’t cluttering, but literally helping.

It’s a deceptively complicated issue, especially the comic strip in the second story. Langridge and Ozella excel.

CREDITS

The Wrong Side of the Tracks; inker and letterer, Bruce Ozella. The Adventures of Pete and Patsy; inker, Vince Musacchia; letterers, Ozella and Musacchia. Writer, Roger Langridge; penciller, Ozella; colorist, Luke McDonnell; editors, Ted Adams, Craig Yoe and Clizia Gussoni; publisher, IDW Publishing.

Popeye 4 (August 2012)

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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 amazing Langridge is able to keep track of it at all.

The Sappo backup is a beautifully simple day at the beach. The jokes are universally strong, Langridge paces them all carefully, Neely’s artwork is lovely.

It’s a good comic, the backup’s just stronger than the feature.

CREDITS

Good Night, Blozo!; artist and letterer, Vince Musacchia; colorist, Luke McDonnell. Hero of the Beach; artist, colorist and letterer, Tom Neely. Writer, Roger Langridge; editor, Ted Adams, Craig Yoe and Clizia Gussoni; publisher, IDW Publishing.

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