Thursday, July 31, 2014

Book-A-Day 2014 #212: Rocky & Bullwinkle, Vol. 1 by Evanier and Langridge

This review sees me flying more blind than usual: I got this book from the folks at NetGalley, and what they sent me was just a PDF of the story pages. No covers, no description, no front matter, no copyright page, no title page, not even any creator credits. From elsewhere on these fine Interwebs, I believe that this book was written entirely by Mark Evanier and drawn entirely by Roger Langridge -- both people whose work I respect, and both of whose hands I think I can detect in this book -- but there's a slim chance that the Interwebs are incorrect in this case.

(NetGalley's own site lists only Langridge, with no whisper of Evanier. That could be correct, too, but I don't think so.)

But do we need to know who created something to enjoy it, and write about it afterward? No, not at all. If symphony orchestras can audition new players blind, I can certainly read some Rocky & Bullwinkle comics stories semi-blind. (And love it all the way.)

So: Rocky & Bullwinkle, Vol. 1 -- if that is the real full title, since NetGalley is vague there as well -- collects the first four issues of the comics series, each of which has a R&B story in two parts, separated by a shorter Dudley Do-Right story. And, if you recognize those characters at all, you have an idea about what those stories should be like.

But your question is: am I right? Are these reasonable comics-format facsimiles of the old Jay Ward cartoons, full of quirky puns and obscure references and silliness that isn't quite as childish as it seems? You will be happy to know that you are right. Langridge may not have written these stories -- as far as I can tell -- but they follow in the tradition of his Muppet Show comics that way: they translate the essence of a classic cartoon TV show into comics panels, keeping the tone and style and verve of the originals but telling new stories.

Langridge seems to be working closer to model than he did on the Muppet comics, which makes the book look less Langridge-y and more Jay Ward. (I personally think Langridge's art loses some energy along that way to slavish reproduction, but the audience for on-model Bullwinkle is presumably larger than for off-model.) It is a crisp, precise Jay Ward look, without as many Landgridgian embellishments in the background as some of his other work, which focuses the humor into the wordplay -- again, very much in the spirit of the original Jay Ward cartoons.

These are funny, witty comics, very much in the spirit of the originals and with a visual look very close to the originals. (Though, given the budget Ward had to work with in those days, these stories actually look better than the originals: more colorful and with more details in the world.) If you wanted more stories about "moose & squirrel," you are very much in luck.

Book-A-Day 2014 Introduction and Index

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