From Friendly Ghosts To Gamma Rays, No.123: Take A Walk On The Friendly Side!
Hey ya’ll and welcome back to our all-ages comics column, From Friendly Ghosts To Gamma Rays! The year is winding down. Here in Buffalo, where I write from, snow has already spread across the ground like the Blob (or like green slime on Gamma-3, for my tokusatsu-fans out there). Still, for the last year of the month, December is still coming on strong with great comic titles, from kids to adult stuff. As a heads up to our readers, we will be doing our “Top 15 All-Ages Titles of 2012” in three weeks for the Dec. 21st column (I know some of you especially look for this one for last minute holiday gift ideas, so it will be coming with a few days of shopping to spare). This week we take a look at two titles which have received a fair amount of attention from our column this year, but all with good reason, so let’s take a look!
Peanuts!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Oh, how I love writing that with an unnecessary string of exclamation marks after it. Boom has done a nice job between the first Peanuts volume of books and now this all new series, throughout 2012. So just before we close out the year, I thought I’d take one last peek at the title. The good news for Peanuts fans is that the book still has all the magic and comedy of that Charlie Brown-charm we’ve come to love about these comics.
Issue 4 gives us three new stories and reprints some Schulz classics. On the new side, we get “Food For Fraught” by Houghton and Whitlock, which cooks us up a great tale of poor Snoopy who just wants to eat, but every time he tries to, the cat next door ruins his meal! “How To Draw Violet” by Scott gives us another in the series of the “how-to-draw-character” stories, but with the fun twist of Pig Pen drawing Violet with chalk. Finally, “Do The Math” by Dyer and DeCarlo finds Charlie Brown with a glimmer of hope after running the figures, that he may finally succeed in kicking the football (with the pay off we all want).
I don’t think there is a weak one in the batch this issue. My first shout out goes this time surprisingly to the editor Matt Gagnon (Yeah, I looked your name up on the title page, Gagnon. Whatcha gonna do about it.) for choosing an awesome selection of Schulz classics to be reprinted. I always like Schulz’s stuff, but these ones really made me laugh. The new stories are all solid, the strongest being Houghton and Whitlock on “Food For Fraught,” which was as well written as it was drawn. All year Houghton and Whitlock have done the strongest out of the teams on the Peanuts title, but here they just out did themselves, all while honoring Schulz’s original work, as well as making a You’re A Good Man Charlie Brown reference! “How To Draw Violet” was a nice switch up this time around by using Pig Pen and having him drawing with chalk. It’s the same vibe of humor as the others that have decorated previous issues, however, the small differences made it stand out and have a cool vibe. On “Do The Math,” Dyer really gets the classic-Peanuts gag and DeCarlo’s rendering of the characters is great to look at, meaning a solid Peanuts comic for those who like Peanuts.
I had to have some complaints, right? Umm…it’s too short! Hey, Gagnon (ah snap, called out two times in one column), can’t you give us a nice double-sized issue or an annual? Peanuts is really a solid book, and the worst part of the book every month is simply just getting to the end and having to wait for next month.
Love yourself some Peanuts, reader. Available in print and digital!
So it has slowly built up to this with this series: Little Miss Daredevil: The Incredible Race, which not only is the strongest in the series, but overall a solid comic that everyone can enjoy.
The plot is simple: Little Miss Daredevil is one of a handful of Mr. Men and Little Misses from across Dillydale that are competing in the Incredible Race, a race that goes from climbing Mt. Dillydale, to zip lining across jungles and skylines, to hang gliding, to outer space madness, and finally a good old bicycle race! Along the way she meets many hysterical challenges as well, including an angry monkey (we all love those), space aliens, and more.
The first books in the series I liked but didn’t love; not a fan of reality TV, couldn’t get into the whole Beatles reference stuff that’s played out. Then last volume with the Mr. Strong story, we got on the right track with classic comic book feeling material and execution. Here with this latest addition to the series, we get an awesome comic that not only builds on a classic straight forward plot structure, but also throws in some very old school Disney wackiness, while being rendered in the world of the Dillydale. The result of that mix is a wonderfully charged, classically paced, colorful read. For fans of the characters, we get a ton of cameos, and none of them feel out of place or like the characters wouldn’t be doing those things, and that was key for me with this volume as well. These are characters folks grew up on, so seeing them do reality TV shows may be a little hard to swallow, but an old fashion race, no brainer there for folks. Kids can dig and adults who grew up on them can dig it too, and as for me, I liked it and I loved it, and so being two for two I can say I really hope Viz employs the team-up of Hardman and Beach on a few more volumes of this series to create some more magic like this.
Little Miss Daredevil: The Incredible Race is out now in print from Viz, check it out!
That’s it for this week, see you next!