What Did I Learn?
Today’s review is on the comic curiously enititled Featuring Talking Guinea Pigs by Jeff Mumm. (Or fTGP for short.)
Let me start by saying that guinea pigs are not animals I find particularly exciting, so I approached this comic with a somewhat negative bias. The story begins by introducing us to Jeremy the guinea pig – who is not really prepared to be an astronaut. Even his mother has little confidence in his ability to survive and his friends would rather party than see Jeremy launch into space.
Some comics would continue to bash on a protagonist like Jeremy. It would be one heart drowning moment after another with potential success turned to the worst possible failure. I’m pleased to say that fTGP avoids that nicely while still giving Jeremy some large obstacles to overcome. The end of the first chapter actually ends on an upnote for Jeremy, at least compared to what he’s gone through.
After that chapter, I really want to say that the second chapter gives us a change of venue into a different kind of danger. The danger of discussing new ideas, that is. It’s such a strong change of scene, so to speak, that it changes the feel of fTGP from panic sticken survival mode into intellectual introspection.
Given that my overall impression of guinea pigs does not include either of these topics, that’s quite a journey for Jeremy to find himself on. In addition, I was amused by most of the individual comics and some were even worth a chuckle. That humor serves as the anchor for the work brings it down from the melodrama it would be if taken from any kind of serious angle.
I also liked the linework, with its nice variety which added some just-off-center character of its own to the feel. There was an earlier story in the comic called A Grand Larceny with different characters and which featured a ninja guinea pig. It had the panel lines in a thick variation which (in comparison) took the focus away from the comic itself. The current story with Jeremy is fittingly called Suffering and Death and the panel lines are less distracting by far.
Another area with good technique was in the abstracted colors. These clouds are well done in that it is clear what they are while not distracting from the important things going on. As artists, it can be easy to add detail to everything instead of just the right places. I wouldn’t want you to think fTGP is all vague and overlook the areas where detail has been added to great effect. (It’s hard to nail a convincing earth in space shot, believe me.) There are a number of other detail touches to see like the sound effects and creative forward/backward buttons.
What Did I Learn?
Two immediate things: detail in its place and abstraction is a useful visual abbreviation. I also was reminded that very few concepts fail to be an interesting subject for a comic and I need to keep an open mind. Take a look at fTGP and see if you aren’t amused, too.