Saturday, September 29, 2018

Book-A-Day 2018 #272: Oddjob by Ian and Tyson Smith

An indy comic with bold, dark-outlined computer art and a cast off oddballs investigating weird things...I smell the '90s!

I kid, I kid. But Oddjob does feel very much of a particular era in comics. This book collects the full Slave Labor Graphic series of the same name (which followed a series of minicomics, some in different art styles, under slightly different names) by Ian and Tyson Smith. The book was published in 2002, collecting comics from early 1999 through early 2001 -- which is close enough to "the '90s" for me.

I don't know the Smith brothers otherwise: I found this book randomly in a store, many years later, and picked it up because it reminded me of a lot of other oddball comics from the '90s and other decades. From a quick websearch, it looks like this was the way they broke into comics, and they had a couple of projects afterward, moved on into movies for a while, and have been quiet (at least on the places I saw) for about a decade.

On the other hand, there's both a dead British politician and a live British comedian named "Ian Smuth," and Tyson is only somewhat less common. So it's entirely possible that they're active doing something artsy but not plugged strongly into Google-Fu.

Anyway, this is the mostly-complete adventures of Moe, Investigator of the Odd! He has a mysterious, enigmatic origin, goggles that he never removes, a vault full of strange and quirky artifacts that he must keep from the hands of ordinary men, and an office above "the second freshest-smelling bar in Spiral City."

His sidekicks are the tough Moose Mulligan, owner and tender of that bar I just mentioned, and the nearly-useless performance-artist Robin the Clown. His investigations include living Gummi creatures from another dimension, exploding echidnas, missing mystical tikis, and the bell that makes it recess forever. There is both a runawayMoe-bot and an Evil Moe within just eight issues.

It has to be said that Oddjob is aggressively wacky. I think it's all honestly wacky: these are the stories these guys wanted to tell. But it is not unlike other very wacky things in comics and animation, from Flaming Carrot and Freakazoid on down.

Writer Ian has a knack for keeping it all going and making the pacing work -- not a small thing in a story where literally anything could happen. And artist Tyson's fat inky lines are delightful -- there's a note in the backmatter that he moved to computer art because he could finally get the really clean, thick lines he wanted that way, and it shows in his work.

Even in the history of quirky comics, Oddjob is just a footnote. But everything doesn't need to be important or major: things can just be fun. And this is.

No comments:

Post a Comment