Kaboom!

Peanuts: A Tribute To Charles M. Schulz (October 2015)

Peanuts: A Tribute to Charles M. SchulzPeanuts: A Tribute to Charles M. Schulz. “Over 40 artists celebrate the work of Charles M. Schulz.” It says so right on the cover. And Tribute is a fine celebration of Peanuts. There are some great cartoonists who contribute pieces for the collection. It’s 144 pages, which means contributors average less than three and a half pages each.

Collections of Peanuts strips, like the Fantagraphics Complete Peanuts, have three strips a page. So Schulz would have ten or eleven strips in similar page count. It shows just how magical he was with pacing those strips day-to-day.

There are some good strips, some okay strips, some cool strips. The Paul Pope Snoopy and Schroeder strip? Very cool. But given the whole grab is Pope doing these realistic looking Pope characters and them still operating on Peanuts logic. When Schroeder worries Lucy’s going to show up… well, Snoopy’s cute and all but I’d much rather see Pope Lucy. Beautiful art, though. Because Pope’s a lover.

There aren’t any strips non-Peanuts loving strips in the book. There are even strips just about loving Peanuts.

A few strips after Pope is Roger Langridge, who does a Snoopy the flying ace strip from the perspective of enemy pilots. It’s cute. It’s not great. Raina Telegemeier does a one page thing right after. Langridge got four pages. Her’s is cute. It’s not great. But she does it in one.

Stan Sakai and Julie Fujii do one of the best longer strips in the book, Escapade in Tokyo. Charlie Brown gets separated from the class on a school trip and spends the day with a cool Japanese girl. It’s anti-crap on Charlie Brown (most of the book, if not all of it, is anti-crapping on Charlie Brown) and it’s a nice story. Sakai and Fujii give it just the right amount of nostalgia and sentamentality without sacrificing the humor.

Terry Moore does something similar. Lucy vs. Charlie Brown only this time Charlie Brown’s going to kick that football. Moore mimicks Schulz’s style but sort of not enough to get away with the strip. Charlie Brown winning has to be perfect, like Sakai and Fujii did.

Chynna Clugston Flores does a “Why I Love Peanuts” strip. It’s good. It’s just a “Why I Love Peanuts strip”. There are some more in the book and Clugston Flores’s is probably the best but… Tribute is just a tribute. Sometimes the cartoonists interact with the characters, sometimes with the media itself.

Evan Dorkin and Derek Charm do a “Cthulhu comes to Peanuts” long strip and it’s inventive, beautifully illustrated (the style homage ages like Schulz’s did as the strip goes on), and kind of thin. Not many contributors do a riff on Peanuts without staying in Schulz’s constraints.

Except then there’s Melanie Gillman’s beautiful Marcie strip addressing her relationship with Patty. Liz Prince had a nice Patty strip earlier, but nowhere near as ambitious. Shaenon K. Garrity’s long, color strip about Patty taking on Lucy is good. It’s mostly in Peanuts constraints, just with some visual storytelling differences.

Peanuts: A Tribute is a good book for a Peanuts fan. To check out from the library. It’s a great proof of concept for a more ambitious project. I didn’t realize I wanted other cartoonists doing Peanuts until I read it. But I want them doing more, trying harder.

I also wish, given it just being this assortment of homages, Boom! had printed it more coffee table size.

CREDITS

Contributors, Mike Allred, Art Baltazar, Paige Braddock, Megan Brennan, Frank Cammuso, Derek Charm, Colleen Coover, Evan Dorkin, Chynna Clugston Flores, Shaenon K. Garrity, Melanie Gillman, Zac Gorman, Jimmy Gownley, Matt Groening, Dan Hipp, Keith Knight, Mike Kunkel, Roger Langridge, Jeff Lemire, Jonathan Lemon, Patrick McDonnell, Tony Millionaire, Caleb Monroe, Terry Moore, Dustin Nguyen, Molly Ostertag, Lincoln Peirce, Paul Pope, Hilary Price, Liz Prince, Stan Sakai + Julie Fujii, Chris Schweizer, Ryan Sook, Jeremy Sorese, Raina Telgemeier, Richard Thompson, Tom Tomorrow, Lucas Turnbloom, Jen Wang, and Mo Willems; editors, Alex Galer and Shannon Watters; publisher, KaBoom!.

The Baker Street Peculiars 4 (June 2016)

The Baker Street Peculiars #4As 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 #3It’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 #2I’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)

357207 20160309222332 largeThe 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!

Abigail and the Snowman 4 (March 2015)

Abigail and the Snowman #4Langridge, 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 #3This 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 #2Abigail 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 #1Abigail 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!.

Snarked 12 (September 2012)

Prv13607 covI guess Langridge gives Snarked a very grown-up ending. It fits with the fable tone he’s established, but it also got me all teary-eyed. It’s a philosophically rewarding finish, which isn’t the same thing as being an immediately pleasurable one.

Langridge covers a lot of territory. There’s a lot more character development than one would expect for a final issue–he has something like three big scenes between the major characters. He also has time for the humor. I never mentioned the Chipmunk, who’s on the ship’s crew and is something of a ninja. She doesn’t do anything this issue, but she’s a great sight gag.

As much as I hoped it would go a different way, Snarked is an outstanding comic. Langridge established three and a half wonderful characters and gave them a lovely outing. I’m going to miss Scarlett, the Walrus and Snarked quite a bit.

CREDITS

Fit the Twelfth: For the Snark was a Boojum, You See; writer and artist, Roger Langridge; colorist, Lisa Moore; editors, Eric Harburn and Bryce Carlson; publisher, kaboom! Studios.

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