Friday, March 28, 2014

Book-A-Day 2014 #86: Recess Pieces by Bob Fingerman

It's annoying to be trucking along, writing a review every day and knocking the books down with ease, and then suddenly realizing you have only one dull thing to say about today's choice. It's enough to make a man doubt his own powers, I tell you.

Anyway, Bob Fingerman uses an art style in his 2006 graphic novel Recess Pieces -- a slightly chibi-fied version of his regular style, which is already very fleshy and full of big eyes and faces -- that resembles nothing so much as the progeny of Mad artist Jack Davis and Margaret Keane. It's definitely creepy, which is a plus for a zombie story, but I'm not convinced it's the right kind of creepy.

Yes, that was it. Not impressive, is it? But I'll soldier on in the absence of inspiration. (Which is a pretty good description of life, most of the time.)

Recess Pieces was one of the earlier splatterings of the current zombie wave; it's the story of a plucky band of kids at Ben Turpin School and what happens to them when an early-morning biology experiment goes horribly awry. (Accounts of zombie attacks have to include the phrase "horribly awry;" it's a rule.) Luckily, it turns out that the zombification process only affects those who have gone through puberty, so our cherubic-faced fifth-graders are safe...from that one, minor problem.

Fingerman takes a while to get into the actual zombie apocalypse; he has a large cast to introduce first and a lot of complication to set up, so Recess Pieces gets through most of this one very eventful school day before the blood and brains start flowing. But there's plenty of action once the zombies arrive, and Fingerman has a dark humor throughout, even before the flesh-chewing begins.

Recess Pieces takes a silly idea and does it semi-straight -- full of jokes, but with real zombie gross-outs, too -- which I think will appeal to zombie fans. His art style is also well-suited to decaying, bulbous, bloody, or otherwise unpleasant kinds of flesh.

I came to this book because I'm still hoping Fingerman does something as impressive as the original run of Minimum Wage -- the stories collected originally in Beg the Question -- and this isn't that, certainly. But it's a zombie story that pushes all of the right buttons: gore, yucks, plucky heroes, unusual fighting implements, escaping danger, and the comeuppance of schoolyard bullies.

Book-A-Day 2014 Introduction and Index

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