Oh My God: Dynamite’s ‘Bob’s Burgers’ Comic Book Is Seriously Great [Erotic Friend Fiction]
Traditionally speaking, TV tie-in comics have been a pretty mixed bag. The ones that are bad tend to fall flat pretty hard, ranging from forgettable to outright terrible. Occasionally, it's because they feel like cheap cash-ins, but more often, it's just a simple case of the tie-in not being able to capture the same spirit and feeling of the source material. But sometimes, every once in a while, you get something like the Bill and Ted's Excellent Comic Book series that Evan Dorkin did for Marvel back in the '90s, where he took the Wyld Stallyns on a full year of increasingly bizarre adventures and ended up making something that's actually amazing, or the recent Eisner-winning Adventure Time comics.
This week marked the launch of Dynamite's Bob's Burgers comic, based on the Fox animated series by Loren Bouchard, and while it's only one issue in, I'm already going to go ahead and say that it goes far beyond capturing the spirit of the show, to the point where it feels like it could be a lost episode. It's not just a great translation of Bob's Burgers to comics, it's great Bob's Burgers, period.
Mostly because it starts with Erotic Friend Fiction about Tina being a horse.
There's a lot to really love about this comic, but the thing I ended up liking the most is just how weird it is. Even Devin Roth's cover is this bizarre off-model depiction of the characters with creepily elongated arms and cat eyes, and while I really like it, that's super strange, especially for what's nominally a first isssue. The creators of the comic are also people who have worked on the show as writers and storyboard artists, and while that undoubtedly goes a long way into explaining just why it is that the comic feels so much like its source material, it also brings a familiarity with the characters. This is a comic that (rightly) assumes that you already know who these characters are and what their deal is, so that they can skip explaining anything about the actual premise of the show and jump right into getting completely bonkers with it.
Even though I know it's almost impossible that this would be the case, I kind of love the idea of someone who has no idea what the show is to pick up this comic and try figuring out just what the hell this whole thing is actually about. Like, "This one kid's a horse, but sometimes she's a girl, and then her brother turns into a singing hamburger, and this kid with the hat is really angry? And I think they have a mom who drinks a lot of wine."
You know, that's actually not that far off.
It's broken up into three stories, and I think it's really telling that Bob and Linda are barely in it, unless you count the two one-page interstitials. One's a list of potential Burgers of the Day from Bob, and the other's a letter to a parenting magazine from Linda, and while they're both hilarious, the characters themselves only really show up in the background of the third story. And really, that's a pretty bold move, considering that one of those characters has their name in the title.
Instead, the focus is on the three Belcher kids, and since the possibilities are pretty slim that you're going to be going into this not knowing who they are and why one of them is a horse on page one, it really works out well.
This probably goes without saying, but the lead story, "Tina's Erotic Friend-Fiction Presents: My So-Called Life As A Horse," by Mike Olsen and Brad Rader (who work on the show as a writer and storyboard artist, respectively) is the absolute highlight of the book. I mean, that's actually underselling it a little bit -- this thing is easily the single best comic book story I've read all week, and considering that I just read a new comic where Scarlett from G.I. Joe jumps out of an exploding space shuttle on a motorcycle and uses a Decepticon's gun to ramp into a nearby helicopter, so that's a pretty big deal.
Not to get too cliché about it, but the only real problem is that it's only eight pages, and I want an entire Tina Belcher's Erotic Friend-Fiction ongoing series. Like, if Dynamite were to contact me and tell me "we need to sell this amount of Bob's Burgers comics in order to greenlight an Erotic Friend-Fiction series," I would be taking out loans to make sure they hit that target number.
Keep in mind that I am not well-known for making good financial decisions.
One more thing about Olsen and Rader's story before I move on: It involves the Equestranauts, and while I saw the episode of the show about them, one thing that really comes through in the comic is that they are not actually small cartoon ponies like the show they're parodying, but actual full-sized realistic horses. And that is hilarious.
The second story comes from Rachel Hastings and Frank Forte (dialogue coordinator and storyboard artist, respectively), and it's the one that suffers the most from the format:
It's not that it's bad, but the premise that they're working on, of Louise dealing with a school picture day that bears an eerie resemblance to a zombie attack, is the kind of thing that could really use more room to breathe. As it stands, they fit the whole thing into a quick six pages, and while I imagine that it's better to get out fast than to overstay your welcome, it's good stuff that could've gone for a lot longer.
Finally, and maybe weirdest of all, is Gene's story by Justin Hook and Bernard Derriman (script coordinator and director and storyboard artist), which takes the form of a musical in a completely silent medium:
Structurally speaking, this may actually be even weirder than opening with one of your characters as a horse, and it's doubly weird since the whole thing is a dramatic fantasy, along the lines of the first story. But it still works, and, most importantly, it's very funny.
The short version of all this is that if you're not already a fan of the show, then the comic probably isn't going to be the magic switch that makes you love it, but if you do already like the show, then this is a comic that's going to give you almost everything you want out of a Bob's Burgers tie in, short of one of those greeting card chips that has H. Jon Benjamin saying "oh my God" every time you open up the comic.
But really, what book out there wouldn't be improved by that?
Bob's Burgers #1 is available now from finer comic book stores everywhere and digitally on Comixology.