Beek's Books - an ongoing collection of comic book reviews
 Spümco "Comic Book" (Dark Horse)
written by John K, Richard Pursel
art by Mike Fontanelli, John K, Jim Smith, Shane Glines

volume 1, #1, 64 pages
Rating: bad, Content: [humour]

  This is a rather awkward review for me to write. You see, I bought this as a get-well present for my boyfriend Andy (the single most dear person in the world to me), who's recovering from surgery to repair a ruptured blood vessel in his brain. At this writing, he's doing OK: not as well as we'd hoped, but slowly improving... he may recover . He was in a coma for a couple weeks, so I had time to read (and review) Comic Book myself before giving it to him. (I forgot to scan any of the art first, so this review will probably remain text-only for the forseeable future.)

 So why is this awkard to write? Well, Andy feels that John K (short for Kricfalusi) was the heart, soul, and source of all the greatness that was Ren and Stimpy before the corporate owners took it over. (I have no doubt he's right.) He was excited to see that John K was coming out with something that he'd own and control, and was certain it would be wonderful. But I thought it (even more so than what little Ren and Stimpy I bothered to watch) was just pathetic. Sorry, snookums.

 This issue consists of two 30-something-page stories, the first featuring Jimmy the Hapless Boy (a drooling idiot) and his adventures with a remote control, the second being the first part of a story featuring George Liquor (a middle-aged "guy") going fishing. The art is very cartoony, full of impossibly exaggerated facial expression, contortions, and situations. It's obviously inspired by the old Loony Tunes cartoons, taken to more fluid extremes. It's pretty good in that respect.

  The stories, however, are little more than self-indulgent juvenile gags about poop, skirt-chasing, making fun of idiots, and animal mutilation. The whole project seems to be an effort to appeal to the most immature aspects of its audience, while doing it with the liberties of a "mature readers" book. For example, they don't have to limit themselves to just the text page about farts; they can (and do) devote 13 pages showing a dog shitting, getting the turd shoved back in his ass (via Jimmy's remote control), and forcing a nearby cat to pull it back out. Likewise, 8+ pages are spent showing in detail how George sticks a fishhook through the alimentary canal of an anthropomorphic worm.

 This might be OK, if it were funny. But it's not, at least not in any way I can see.

 Maybe there's a deeper message here... perhaps it's parody, or a "performance art" piece saying that comic books are all pathetic trash, or a satire of "old-fashioned" values and their portrayal in the media. But all of this is just inferred from what the book lacks; I don't actually get any of this from what it contains. Ultimately, I can only conclude that this is mental junk-food for grown-ups.

 By the way, the book is about twice as large as a standard comic, about 9x12 inches. The only thing they use this large format for is to blow up the already simple art to large dimensions, rather than giving you any more of it. Unless you count the fact that it lets you see the hairs on George's back a little better, the art doesn't benefit at all from this enlargement.

For more info about Comic Book, visit the Spümco site.
We rated with RSAC [discuss] This book can be discussed in rec.arts.comics.alternative
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