From Friendly Ghosts To Gamma Rays, No. 142
Hello and welcome back readers to another edition of our all-ages comics column From Friendly Ghosts To Gamma Rays! Once again here is where the old man that is trapped in my 27-year-old man body starts reflecting on stuff and says “We live in a good time for entertainment.” I know sometimes it feels like we have too many options to pick from, I certainly do by seeing how many different things I can write about every week these days, but in a way to both combat piracy and expand the market, digital has given us access to comics, movies, and TV shows from all over the world to watch. This week I downloaded comics from America, Britain, Japan, and India (we’ll get to that last one in this column). I turned on the TV and brought up my Netflix streaming, and suddenly I could watch a ton of shows from Batman: The Brave and The Bold to Adventure Time whenever I wanted! Even on the physical side of things, last week the long awaited complete Johnny Sokko and his Flying Robot TV series came out on DVD, and IDW keeps churning out more TMNT reprints I have been waiting for years for. It’s moments like this you have to ask yourself, isn’t it great to be a geek? Now, onto this week’s reviews!
Hitting stands last week was the latest issue of all-ages favorite title, Peanuts!
As per usual here, we get several short comics starring our favorite Peanuts bunch along with a little Snoopy flair. “Bank Notes” by Gertler and Gladden is a fun short, where we see what happens when Lucy tells Schroeder he should put a tip jar on his piano to save for their future. “Ally Oops” is a little bit longer comic by Scott, where we get to see plenty of funny antics when the gang goes to the bowling alley to win a trophy. We also get a few classic Peanuts comics by Schulz, and a poster by Scott.
There is a lot of cute material in these pages, nothing side splitting, but still sure to put a smile the reader’s face. They look like the Peanuts, they sound like the Peanuts, so what more could the reader want? The story and art in the title is all on track here, the highlight being Vicki Scott in “Ally Oops” taking a great moment to channel Schulz and drawing this whole sequence of reactions of Snoopy bowling, that felt like it was right out of the strip.
The issue does fly by a little too fast, and once again I cry out in this column for a double-sized issue to sink a reader’s teeth into. It’s not that it “isn’t worth the money” or some excuse like that, it’s just it takes less than 10 minutes to read it and you hit the end of the issue just as you’re getting into the groove of things. I would never recommend a reader wait for a collected edition, but that may be the smarter move with this title considering how quick of a read it is (and yeah, if you’re a dollars count person, wait for the collected edition).
Issue #7 of Peanuts is out now in print and digital.
There is a high chance as a reader in North America that you may have read Tintin, and might have at least heard of Asterix, but probably you have not heard of a character called Chacha Chaudhary. Like the other comics we have mentioned, he wasn’t created here in the U.S., but unlike those mentioned Franco-Belgian titles that have been pushed to us from time to time, Chacha Chaudhary is an Indian comic, and here in the U.S. we have little history of those being tossed our way at all. However, recently Ether*Media has released their “India Comics” app on the iPad providing affordable access to a huge amount of comics from India, from humor to action to historical and more, in both English and Hindi. The one that jumped out to us was finally being able to read Pran’s Chacha Chaudhary.
Pran is nicknamed the Disney of India, and while his work does not have the visual flair of Disney, the creating funny memorable comics for his people aspect like Disney did for Americans rings true. Chacha Chaudhary started in 1971 in Indian comic magazine Lotpot (although Pran created him in 1969 at the comic’s start, but ran other comics first), and quickly within a few years the humor mag caught India by storm. Traditionally, India was getting versions of Mandrake the Magician, The Phantom, and other classic characters, but Pran’s characters were everyday citizens of India, set in India, connecting with them on a different level. Thus a new star was born. Chacha Chaudhary follows the title character who is a middle-aged Indian male, but incredibly smart, with a brain even faster than a super computer. Frequently he is hanging out with his friend, the gigantic strongman Sabu, who is actually from another planet but decided to stay on Earth, and when he gets mad, volcanoes on Earth explode. This unlikely duo meets all sorts of trouble, from gangsters to invading space aliens, to everyday things, like with Chacha’s wife!
The blend of the fantastic with the the everyday, all twinged with humor, really makes Chacha Chaudhary a great read. I read the English editions and don’t think anything was lost in translation because it certainly made me laugh. Pran’s art is simple and feels very comic strip-like, a lot of characters with blank backgrounds, however, as comic fans know this is not unusual for a gag-comic. The only down side isn’t with the material itself, but its presentation. For the digital world the comics have been digitally re-colored and don’t really look great, the digital colors making the simple art seem crude somehow. As funny as it is, some North American readers may be turned off by how the digital looks. However, if you can get over that speed bump or just don’t mind it at all, then this is something you should check out for the love of comics.
Chacha Chaudhary can be found digitally on Ether*Media’s India Comics app!
That’s it for this week folks, see you next!