Tuesday, July 04, 2023

Are We Lost Yet? by Will Henry

I've had this same problem my entire book-reviewing "career" - what to say about another book in a series, when it's the same kind of thing as the ones before. Even if you really like the new one, you've already said the things you could say.

So, let me start out by saying that Are We Lost Yet? is the fourth collection of Will Henry's "Wallace the Brave" daily strip. The comic itself appears in newspapers and on GoComics every day; the three prior collections are Wallace the Brave, Snug Harbor Stories, and Wicked Epic Adventures (links are to my posts). This one was published last year, so it includes comics that I've seen since I started reading the strip online, which is nicely circular.

(In fact, there's one of my favorite panels in here, which I clipped and saved to use as a reaction image online - though I never get as much use out of the things in that folder as I think I will. I'll shove that into this post, a little further down, so you can see if your tastes in humor and reactions are anything similar to mine.)

Those three posts are all pretty substantial; I like this strip and have enjoyed trying to explain the things I like about it. I've probably devoted less time to Henry's cartooning in these posts than I should: he's a supple cartoonist who fills his panels with details but always in a quick-looking, energetic style. He's really clearly on the side that cartoons should be cartoony: eyes goggle, bodies fly in reaction to events, sound effects proliferate with a variety of perfectly onomatopoetic lettering.

I don't want to repeat myself, but this is a great strip, one of the best of its kind and one of the most fun and energetic strips currently running. The only contemporary thing as creative and amusing as Wallace the Brave I can think of is the Peter Gallagher Heathcliff, which is otherwise utterly different.

I know Wallace is the central character, the hero, and we're supposed to relate to him. But he's just too much of a cockeyed optimist for me to take seriously, too much of that wide-armed American huckster, always with a new story to tell that he utterly believes in the moment. No, for me the best and most important character is Spud, dragged into situations he's not good at handling over and over again by his best friend, but always himself and never about to change to be more like that annoying/wonderful friend.

This is a fine modern comic strip, in a mode a lot of people have liked in a lot of styles over a lot of years, so I have to think a lot of you will like Wallace the Brave if you see it. So go see it.

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