Saturday Stuff Jellyman and Toast

“We see so many kids who are just plain bored at events we do (not just cons, but art events, etc.) and I hate that. There should be something for them just to have a little fun, they are kids after all, having fun is their full time job. I can identify with why they are bored. There are a lot of things that look interesting, but they are not allowed to touch, be it because things are graphic, or fine art, or collectible. It reminds me of that line out of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, “The place is like a museum. It’s very beautiful and very cold, and you’re not allowed to touch anything.” We saw that there needed to be something, anything, that they could just be kids with. Even comics aimed at kids these days become collectable almost immediately (My Little Pony, Adventure Time, etc.). Really little kids don’t want lessons on proper comic handling, or to be told that they have to be really careful with it, they want to open it up, color on it, draw mustaches on the characters, that sort of thing. So that is exactly what we gave them. All the collectable stuff and proper handling will come later.”- James Dufendach on the creation of Jellyman and Toast

Another PLB comic?
Yup. Like I said, they keep putting stuff out and keep wanting yours truly to review it. Probably because I’m awesome.

BUT THIS ONE IS KID FRIENDLY
Man oh Man, a kid friendly book by PLB? At first I thought this probably meant that during the decapitations rainbows poured from the necks instead of blood. Boy was I wrong. Jellyman and Toast is PLB’s first kids book and there is nothing even remotely questionable as far as content for kids. And it’s a dollar. And it’s a coloring book. With activities.

Review
Most of ya’ll will remember the review I did of Bedbug #1 last week. It was a great kid’s comic that had so much depth that there was enough in it for me to love or hate. Regardless of my thoughts on the hero, Bedbug has a depth that I love in kids stories as it encourages deeper reading and thought. Jellyman and Toast is the opposite. Weighing in at 12 pages, with multiple stories, gags and puzzles, there is a lot of stuff, and none of it is deep enough for you to grow too attached. Sure, you can like or dislike it, but at the end of the day you never invest enough into it to hate it or love it.

As for said content, you are given two groups of stories, three about Jellyman and Toast, and two about Dracula, the Mummy, and the Wolfman as roomates (or Doomates). The doomates one requires a little bit of prior knowledge by your kids about the monsters involved, but not enough to ruin the punchline if they don’t know about a certain thing. Jellyman and Toast’s stories are random, dealing with plot points from cooking, to clones, the Santa. Both sets of stories deal with the random type of humor that excels in modern day cartoons, and will be easily funny to kids who think something is funny just because it’s weird (and who can blame them?).

The writing is goofy, if sometimes a little off. The art is fun. The puzzles are easy. The jokes are random. Your kid can afford it on their allowance. Jellyman and Toast is what it is: a soda. You buy it for a buck and it tastes good, but there is little nutritional value.

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School starts for me today! Not that ya’ll especially care, but it does mean I’ll be downright busy. But I promise to keep the update schedule!

Saturday Stuff Bedbug Review

I’m a Jerk
Remember the old adage “Never judge a book by its cover”? Turns out I suffer a bit from that same thing, but I question you, my readers, is that such a bad thing? I’m here today to review Scott Roger’s comic Bedbug #1, and, as you can see, there are slightly different covers, one of which came with my review copy, the other that is on the actual books for sale. I had a real big issue with the cover I got, the one on the left, but I will get to that later. First I would like to review the one on the right.

For a species so closely resembling a Tick, this comic doesn’t
Tights and secret identity Super hero comics fall into roughly three categories.
1. The originals, made largely to inspire people about the power of the good of an individual over evil. See Superman (Truth, Justice and the American Way), Spiderman (With great power comes great responsibility), Professor X (Humanity and mutant kind can live together peacefully.)
2. The grays. Grays teach us that super heroes are flawed, like the rest of us. These are many times anti-heroes. A sinner not need be a saint to do good. Some originals have turned into grays over the years. See Batman (I’m not the hero Gotham deserves), Wolverine (I’m the best at what I do, and what I do isn’t very nice), Deadpool (Look! Pancakes!).
3. Satire. These heroes are jokes about the other two heroes, fun house mirrors that can actually show us more about the characters of the original. See The Tick (Spoon!) and Home Made Heroes (Captain Yankee… really?).

Over the years the originals have slowly lost ground over either edgier, darker stories or stories making fun of them. This is a sign of comics striving to mature, but it would be a sad day to forget where they started.

And that’s where Bedbug comes in. Bedbug is made to remind people that comics can be naive and innocent yet still relevant in a not so clean world. Bedbug is an homage to the Golden age of comics with its heroic hero, goofily evil villains, and strong moral message.

Review of cover 2
The book is made up of two short stories and two one page gags. The first story is Bedbug’s origin story. Its a very simple tale that should connect with kids. What’s the first thing you do when you find out you can walk? You try and run… or…. jump in this case. There isn’t much of a causation correlation to his becoming a super hero, but perhaps there doesn’t have to be? Bedbug becomes a super hero, not out of honor, not out of duty, nor regret, but because he can. The origin story, while adults may not gravitate towards, is a good one for kids. The second major story follows the first one page gag. Both one page gags are alright. The first one establishes that his daughter draws him, which is great for the following story which appears to be drawn by a child.

Story two is the main one in the book. While his daughter is at a sleep over Bedbug must fight a crime wave in the city with a super hero friend of his. Art is the best part in this story, and the story does its best to introduce you to all of Bedbug’s villains. Blue Tiger makes a great antiparent, and fulfills the role of second role model brilliantly.

Bedbug is well worth the time to look at, especially if you are thinking of a new hero for your kids, but I strongly recommend checking out the two stories he has for free on his website here Bedbug paints parents as heroes, who strive to be heroes because of their kids.

Review of cover 1/ Rant
I almost gave this comic a negative review for this cover, and it all has to do with expectation. For a whole day I battled with myself. I knew I should like this comic. I knew it was good. But something was biting at me that kept me from liking it.
Towards the end of the day I realized it.

That box.

Do you see it?

On the bottom left of the cover on the left?

“Single Father Super Hero”

It wasn’t just that though, everything I had heard about Bedbug, everything I looked up, stressed he was a single father and that this, above any other reason, was why you should read the book. This is an interesting twist, as there are a lot of single parents who raised super heroes, but few who are actually heroes themselves.

And my issue:
I am a parent. My girlfriend was a single parent for just over a year. I know single parents. I know parents. And Bedbug #1 has no real parenting challenges. Normal parents deal with three big aspects of parenting: Structure, Money, and Time. Parents set the structure for which their kids grow. The decide on how to discipline the child, how to raise the child, etc. A two parent house hold has an element of give and take, and the structure is easier to uphold because of the extra authority figure. Parents also need jobs, and often have to get higher paying jobs instead of dream jobs in order to give their kids the life they want for them. Many two parent households have two incomes, which means that there is time for them to be with their kids because, usually, one or the other will have time after or before work to spend with their child. Finally, parents have to deal with the struggle of time. Kids grow up fast, too fast, and every minute we are at work paying for their homes, sports, and toys we are not with them overseeing their growth in moral, intellectual, and physical pursuits. Single Parents have all of these struggles double. Structure is hard to maintain when you do not outnumber the child. Many single parents need to work multiple jobs or longer hours just to give the child the same life they’d have with two parents. This takes away from the time they want to spend with their child. Single Parents are superheroes because the normal troubles of parenting are harder for them, and many do it anyway because they love their child so much.

Bedbug is a multimillionaire who’s only job is being a super hero. He doesn’t worry where the next paycheck is coming from. He doesn’t have to worry about time because he fights crime while his daughter is asleep or at school, and seems to spend a lot of time with her when she is out of school. He doesn’t deal with even two parent household problems. Every problem that is brought up as a “Single Parent Problem” is actually a “Parent Problem”. For a book whose cover includes him spending his crime fighting time with his daughter and a big bolded sentence at the bottom left reading “SINGLE FATHER SUPER HERO” it doesn’t give anything for single parents to connect with except that he is one. His struggles are not the same. I began to dislike him as a character for being able to spend so much time with his daughter who appears to love him so much that she draws pictures of him being a super hero. He doesn’t even have to keep his identity secret from her, and thus the moral dilemma of “Daddy, why can’t you play with me?” “Because… I have… work?” never happens. But this is as an adult reading a kids book, and I realize that my arguments aren’t the point of his book. I simply could not relate to the character.

That is until I read the comics on his site. The one about how he has the change the way he fights crime because he wants to show his daughter that nonviolence is the way real heroes act? That struck me. Go read that one. Here

Some may claim that I am over analyzing, and should enjoy the book for what it is, a children’s book, but I argue differently. Putting it on the cover, making it one of the main reasons to buy the book, seemed to be a money grab. Kids don’t care if the super hero is a single parent. Kids would rather see themselves as heroes. It is included just to entice parents and single parents to buy the book. Spiderman doesn’t say “Skinny nerd super hero”, Superman doesn’t say “Farmboy Super Hero”, Batman doesn’t say “Orphan Super Hero”. They survive on their own merits. I analyzed the book the way that it seemed I was intended to by the attention drawn to that main fact. I don’t think it is a good example of being a parent and a super hero. His daughter seems to purely exist for the purpose of making him a single father.

Conclusion
I am sorry Mr. Rogers for the way I initially thought of your comic. I was wrong, and let personal issues interfere with my review. I would like to let you know that you have a good work, and one I can see growing strong. As a golden age super hero comic it works splendidly, and kids 6-12 should eat this up and feel great for doing so. Adults? Give it a try. I didn’t find much to stick to, but, besides the obvious, what did strike me struck me in a good way.

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New arc starts now!

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Yup…. still waiting on archive page….

Last comic of the arc! I hope you all enjoyed it. June is always a blast to write for, and I love the moments she has in the comic. Itchy is back on friday.

Saturday Stuff PLB Halloween

Me and the Squirrel are friends
If you guys haven’t noticed, I review a lot of PLB comic’s stuff. This isn’t on purpose mind you, I am open to anyone to review, but PLB puts something out ALL THE TIME. They are putting out two comic books AS WE SPEAK. Do I need to end all of my thoughts with caps? PROBABLY NOT, I DON’T HAVE A PROBLEM. PLB is the Beatles of comic books, they produce a lot of stuff, all the time, and some are hits, some are misses. This is compounded even further by their standard formula: Pack their comics with more artists and stories than you can shake a stick at (why is that a saying? I can shake a stick at a lot of things).Oh, and like I need to even say it anymore, this comic is not kid friendly.

So what is it this time?
PLB comics has another Halloween comic out, and boy is this one a doozy. 40 pages, 5 stories, and all of that for only $3. As usual, I’ll give you a quick review of the entire comic, then a detailed review of each story.

Review time
PLB Halloween ‘013 is a good read. All of the stories have their moments, and there is one that I enjoyed tremendously that screams “Halloween” and yet dashes my expectations at the last moment (in a good way). The sad part is that they don’t mesh well. The feeling of each story is completely different from the next. It starts off with a sad, action romp, and then jumps between horror, action, and simply weird. I feel like this is no fault of their own, and it does not detract from the fun of each story individually. It is simply a feeling I had looking back that I felt stopped it from being a great book, instead of a good book with some great stories. Feelings aside, there is definitely a strong theme to the book. In the PLB universe, when you rip off the mask of what scares you, you find that humans are the real monsters.

Home
John the swamp monster is back this year with what might be his best story ever. It is not scary, which makes it odd for a Halloween story, but perhaps that is PLB’s point. The swamp people are seeking to live lives apart from everyone, keeping to themselves and their families. It is a group of humans who terrorizes them, kills their children, and burns their homes. At the end of the story you end up loving the swamp people more than the humans. This is a story that leaves you sad but satisfied. The last panel strikes home what you’ve just read, and is one of the high parts of the book. Shockley knows how to write for comics, showing that he knows when words speak louder than pictures, and when a picture of a word.. speak… louder… than… 1000 words?

Home Fires Burning
I’ve reviewed The Fall before, but his Halloween story ranks high among the best of the stories. The Fall meets an ex police officer who was killed by a thief. Whether or not the police officer was “killed” in the sense that it killed his career, social standing, and any chance for a normal life, or that he is actually dead, is superbly kept a mystery by revealing clues to both. The Fall gives a little speech about how Vengeance is a tough road to walk down as he catches the cop about to snipe the man who is responsible for his current state of deadness. The mystery man is definitely the highlight, succeeding in being more mysterious than even the Fall himself.The art here may be the only thing better than the story itself. The Spicer Bros are a great team, and as a team they enhance anything they’d do separately. The art does wonders to sell the mystery man as an iconic maniac, and the style sells the grim and gritty nature of The Fall.

Sometimes you get what you need
No monsters, no creepiness, no real halloween stuff beyond a twilight zone moment. I like the art (done by Ryan Thompson of Fajita) though. It’s probably my least favorite of the bunch as it simply happens too fast without enough explanation to make me think it was anything other than a crazy random happenstance. Who is the wizard? Did he have something to do with the coincidence? Why was the guy so upset about something so small? It’s good, but it doesn’t strike me as Halloweeny. Perhaps I am missing something?

To Be Loved
This was my favorite story in the entire book. The plot begins like a bad horror film, with two buxom women attempting to create a portal into a different dimension to pull forth evil creatures via a child sacrifice and making out. The story has a great twist that I won’t spoil, but this story is easily the best in the book and more than makes up for the price of admission. It looks and feels like a horror movie, and is exactly what I expected from a Halloween story.

A Tale With Teeth
A very creepy looking story, with a great opening for a character. The lead character’s design will elicit a shiver just by looking at her, and the writing grips you. It does suffer from one of the main flaws in many stories this short: It’s not long enough. It raises too many question to be answered in a few pages, and could do with one or two more pages to be satisfying. Maybe more of her story will be in ‘014?

Conclusion
I feel like I’ve said a lot of bad things about a book I actually enjoyed a great deal. The creepy, odd and disturbing creatures are exactly what you’d expect in a Halloween story, but the plots add something different. The plots give the monsters voice, causing once mute terrors to gain humanity and sympathy through their words. Halloween ‘013 is a good read, with moments of greatness. I know I put down my computer three times during reading it and said “Oh Snap” at what I’d just seen.

Aside
One neat thing I’m beginning to realize about PLB is their action sequences. Their fights are quick, brutal, and decisive. While in a normal comic pages can be devoted to a fight, PLB fights usually last two panels, one of which usually involves being ripped in half. I find this fascinating, and really adds to the gritty, no holds barred feeling of the comics.

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I promise I’ll have an archive page soon.

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Archives page still in development. Thanks for understanding!

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I promise an archive page is coming soon.