Featured Columns

June 21, 2013

From Friendly Ghosts To Gamma Rays: Spongebob, Looney Tunes and Big Nate!

From Friendly Ghosts to Gamma Rays

From Friendly Ghosts To Gamma Rays, No.150

Hello and welcome back to another week of From Friendly Ghosts To Gamma Rays! I am worn out to shreds this week, broke one of my toes and all, however there is some great stuff out there, and Puzzle & Dragons, the most addicting mobile-app game ever has been there to kill the time at the numerous doctor offices and such I’ve been at! If you haven’t checked it out I give it a high recommend to kill time and have fun, basically Bejeweled meets Pokemon, cool stuff. Enough about that though, let’s get down to this week’s reviews!


spongebobann1Spongebob Annual-Size Super-Giant Swimtacular #1
Publisher: United Plankton
Writers: Derek Drymon,Scott Roberts, James Kochalka and Chuck Dixon
Art: Derek Drymon, Vince Deporter, Ramona Fradon, James Kochalka, Hilary Barta and Jacob Chabot

Hot off the presses and onto stands this week from United Plankton is a giant sized Spongebob comic in old school comic annual format! The cover to the stories inside, the issue harkens up all the memories of nostalgia for those who use to run out and gobble up those annuals back in the day, here with a variety of superhero-themed Spongebob tales!

Six stories pump up these pages, most of them concentrating on Spongebob’s all time hero Mermaid Man and his sidekick Barnacle Boy. Highlights include “Lo, There Shall Be A Catered Affair!”, in which the Aquatic Adventurers have a reunion at the Crusty Crab, and Spongebob uses all his will power not to ask them to autograph his issue #1 of The Aquatic Adventurers, and then mystery ensues; a huge story titled “Sidekick Blues!”, which focuses on old school Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy adventures; and “Secrets Of The Mermalair!” in which Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy find hey have some very odd fanboy visitors in their dwellings. Other tales include fun with “The Evil That Mendu!”, “Super Gary!”, and “The Golden Kelp!”

The cult of fans who worship James Kochalka will love to note that he wrote and drew the short “Super Gary!”, which feels very much like a Kochalka story (I mean that in a good way), with his signature art and all. My personal favorite was the mentioned “Sidekick Blues!” which showcases Silver Age feeling art by Ramona Fradon and storytelling by Derek Drymon, packed with laughs and giving the issue a cool spin. A shout out also goes to the series of fake old fashioned ads from the 60s and 70s, featuring Mermaid Man in a variety of fun parodies that will have you going to your back-bins with fond nostalgia, really great stuff.

The Spongebob Annual-Size Super-Giant Swimtacular #1 is out in print this week from United Plankton, high recommend.


Looney_Tunes_213Looney Tunes #213
Publisher: DC Comics
Writers: Sholly Fisch, Scott Gross and Arie Kaplan
Art: Robert Pope, Omar Aranda and Dave Santana

We check in again with DC’s bi-monthly Looney Tunes title, and although this title doesn’t pop up in the top comic sales anymore, it’s still going with a dedicated fan base that is keeping the title alive, and is worth the read if you’re a lover of the series or a fan of cartoons-to-comics (which seems to be the ever growing trend this year with all-age titles).

Issue #213 features three stories. In “Traning Cats & Dogs,” Sylvester finally thinks he can get the jump on Tweety through the help of some new age mind over matter tricks. In “Extreme Dorks,” Daffy and Porky discover in a world where everything gets its 15 minutes of fame, Daffy starts a little craze of freestyle falling called “The Daffy Dive”! Finally, in “Licenese To Kill…Wabbits” Elmer Fudd’s hunting days are numbered as Bugs Bunny convinces him he is a secret hunting agent for the government and puts him through some pretty humorous tests.

Always good for a laugh, Looney Tunes is exactly what you expect: gag humor. No epic story lines or reboots here, and we like it that way (and hey, by not being part of the New 52, it’s DCs highest numbered comic still in print now!). Highlight and favorite of the issue is “Extreme Dorks,” where like some of the best Looney Tunes bits that comment on current culture while mixing in classic slap stick, this tale has a pretty great social commentary in it about the world and trends these days, all while making us laugh and inserting in a good few falls.

Looney Tunes #213 is out now in print from DC Comics.


bignategameBig Nate: Game On!
Publisher: AMP
Story and Art: Lincoln Peirce

From AMP Comics comes the collection Big Nate: Game On!, which collects the sports theme strips of Big Nate by Lincoln Peirce.

Big Nate has run in newspapers from United Features Syndicate since 1991. Recently this sixth grader and his antics have become more and more popular thanks to a series of collected reprints and chapter books aimed at middle schools, which have gained a following. As already mentioned, this collection puts together all his sports strips, where we see Nate and friends deal with life on their basketball team, baseball team, and soccer team, and the humor that comes along with it, from trouble getting a team sponsor, smack-talking to other teams, and more.

For those who haven’t read Big Nate, the style is more slice-of-life Peanuts execution in humor, with a handful of modern and contemporary references sprinkled throughout to mix it up for the modern day reader of Nate and company. The style and storytelling is common strip-style, simpler cartoon drawings, and four-panel gags with a bit more meat on a Sunday. Everything in the collection is re-colored for the kids, even the dailies.

How does it rank? It’s fun light-hearted humor, and you don’t need to be a sports fan to laugh at this sports-centric collection. Of course fans of the strip and the growing legion of kids will be the first in line to grab this title and will be satisfied with it. For the non-enthusiast, I’d read a strip or two (there are a variety of ways, from newspaper to iPads these days), and if you like that, you’ll do just fine picking this up.

Big Nate: Game On! is available in print and digital from AMP!


That’s it for this week, see you next!

Drew McCabe




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