Bee and Puppycat is really, really cute. It is also funny, bizarre, and occasionally wistful. Above all though, it is cute: there’s the pastel palette, the fat pink bows on Bee’s shoes, the warm roundness of its characters, literally everything about Puppycat. Its absurdism is soft and its softness is absurd -- “I got fired today,” Bee intones flatly, the rain spattering her cat-faced pinafore dress. She’s a dumpster-diving Sanrio character, Strawberry Shortcake late for her appointment at the temp agency. The beginnings of a plot prod gently at her from time to time, but never with anything like urgency -- two issues into its run, Boom! Studios' Bee and Puppycat comic has meditated on strawberry donuts, embarrassing pajamas, and platform shoes, but not much else. Creator Natasha Allegri (along with collaborators Madeleine Flores and Garrett Jackson) would rather devote three pages to QR-coded music boxes than set about untangling Puppycat’s origins or the nature of their magical, mysterious employer.
In these qualities, Bee and Puppycat is right in line with Adventure Time, Steven Universe, and Bravest Warriors, its closest brethren in tone and form. Beyond the creator overlap between the four franchises and the fact that all of them now span both animation and comics, they’re all content to hunker down in that pocket of the zeitgeist that brings together childhood nostalgia and bizarre Internet-age humor, where atmosphere reigns over plot.
But Bee and Puppycat stands out among them, and marks a sea change in comics -- particularly in how franchises are formed, what is considered marketable, and what demographics are seen as worthy of being catered to. In its weird, witty way, I believe that Bee and Puppycat emblematizes the future of this industry.
As the band Solid Bold so indelibly noted in their song "Summertime Loving, Loving In The Summer (Time)," "It's Summertime and you know what that means / Gonna head down to the beach, gonna do some beachy things."
One of those beachy things could be plopping down on the sand and reading a graphic novel about Regular Show...uh, regulars Mordecai and Rigby trying to figure out how and why a mysterious pool appeared in their park in the midst of a blistering heat wave. That's the premise of the new Boom! Studios graphic novel by Ed, Edd and Eddy writer Rachel Connor and artist Tessa Stone (Bravest Warriors). The beautiful cover above is by Allison Strejlau, artist on the monthly Regular Show series.
Finn and Jake have been on a crazy ride over the last four issues of BOOM! Studios' Adventure Time series. Courtesy of Eisner-winning series writer Ryan North and visiting artist Jim Rugg, the plucky pair have traversed dark dungeons, confronted mind-body dualism by dying and becoming ghosts, pranked the Ice King, reprogrammed BMO, and been busted by spook hunter Ant-Ghost Princess. Naturally along the way they've made some eminently bad calls that have screwed everything up for basically everybody in the Land of Ooo. Also we saw the Mecha Lumpy Space Princess. Finally, this particular saga comes to an end in issue #27, which BOOM! promises will see the intervention of an "unlikely" ally.
I recently became acquainted with the excellent webcomics of Jake Lawrence, an Australian cartoonist whose Timecowboy blog showcases his talents for creative character design, pixel art and of course good old fashioned cartooning. His work ranges from funny autobio to fantasy-fused action adventure.
My college dorm room was a dizzying collage of prints, posters, and postcards — but nothing drew as much attention as the Camilla d’Errico pieces I had pinned up over my bed. People would peer at them, asking who drew these strange portraits of girls entwined with pythons, wearing huge, complicated helmets, and melting into candy-colored puddles. Every time, I’d wish that I had something discrete to point them towards, something that gathered the style and themes of d’Errico’s work into a coherent package.
Enter Tanpopo. Originally self-published, d’Errico’s passion project tells the story of the titular Tanpopo, a brilliant, yet emotionless girl, and Kuro, the devil who persuades her into a journey of self-discovery. The text is taken entirely from the work of such luminaries as Goethe, Coleridge, and Pu Sungling: in the first volume, excerpts from Faust explore Tanpopo and Kuro’s meeting, while text from Rime of the Ancient Mariner chart the former’s growing distrust of the latter. Tanpopo’s 170-page second volume, on sale now from BOOM! Studios, uses Shakespeare, Poe, and the 1001 Arabian Nights to similar effect.
To explore this unique work more deeply, ComicsAlliance spoke with d’Errico about pop surrealism, teenage girls, and more.
This week, Chris and Matt talk about how much they love Big Trouble in Little China, and how much they enjoyed the first issue of the new comic sequel by Eric Powell and Brian Churilla in spite of some art hiccups; then it's on to Nailbiter #2 by Joshua Williamson and Mike Henderson; and finally they discuss the first volume of Afterlife With Archie by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and Francesco Francavilla.
A 1968 script by Jim Henson and longtime collaborator Jerry Juhl is finally being produced, as a TV special and as a brand new graphic novel by Snarked, Popeye and The Muppets cartoonist Roger Langridge.
Archaia will publish the Thanksgiving themed graphic novel The Magical Monsters of Turkey Hollow in October, which means the project has a real Henson pedigree. Not only has Langridge produced acclaimed Muppets comics for Archaia parent Boom! Studios, but the graphic novel that really put Archaia on the map in 2011 was Tale of Sand, an adaptation of another unproduced Henson/Juhl script.
Remember that scene in Ghostbusters where Bill Murray is talking about the catastrophic effects of shutting down the containment unit, and he's all like "Cats and dogs, living together! Mass hysteria!" Of course you do. Now, if you ever heard that and thought "well that sounds like a pretty good premise for a comic book story about my favorite characters from the smash hit TV show Adventure Time," then friend, you are in luck, because that's exactly what's going down in Adventure Time: The Flip Side #6, the final installment of the miniseries by Colleen Coover, Paul Tobin and Wook Jin Clark!
It's one of those weird quirks about comics that when something is really, really good, you kind of forget about it for a while. Being great becomes the standard, so you almost forget about how good it is until something comes along and it suddenly gets even better. Like, say, when the Adventure Time comic teams up writer Ryan Northwith Street Angel and Afrodisiac creator Jim Rugg to introduce a bold new character named Anti-Ghost Princess in next week's issue.
That's right, Finn and Jake have shuffled off this mortal coil and have been reduced to haunting the candy castle, leading Princess Bubblegum to call in Anti-Ghost Princess and her team to handle these supernatural shennanigans once and for all. And I can assure you: this bit of busting certainly makes me feel good. Check out a preview below!
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