Monday, February 28, 2005

Quick GN Reviews

Pinky & Stinky
by James Kochalka
I realize that there are a lot of people out there who really like James Kochalka, but it's really hard for me to see what all of the fuss is about. Case in point: Pinky & Stinky. The title characters are piglets who are to be the first creatures from Earth to journey to Pluto, but an accident finds their spaceship crashlanding on the Moon, where they mix it up with the human astronauts on Moon Base Five in a giant mecha and end up catpives in the underground ice kingdom of the moon people. Where most writers would take that plot and make something interesting, Kochalka instead goes for the trite and banal. Things happen in Pinky & Stinky, but it's all just sort of random and with little point. I've never really warmed to Kochalka's crude drawing style either, and there's not much here to change my mind. This comic isn't so much bad as it is just there; it's inoffensive, but also lacking in any sort of narrative drive. Then again, I've stated that I'm not a fan of Kochalka's; if you are, perhaps you'll find this more to your liking.
Rating: 2 (of 5)

Goodbye, Chunky Rice
by Craig Thompson
I liked, though didn't love, Thompson's most recent work, the multi-award-winning Blankets, so I was interested to see what his first graphic novel, Goodbye, Chunky Rice, would work. The title character, Chunky Rice, is a little turtle living in the world of men. "My home is on my back," Chunky says, so he decides to move on, leaving his roommate and his girlfriend (a little white mouse named Dandel) behind, purchasing passage on a ship (filled with oddball characters, natch). Goodbye, Chunky Rice is a denser and more compact work than Blankets, both in storytelling and in art style; where Blankets was open and free, Goodbye, Chunky Rice is more clsoed-in on itself--for example, negative space is filled in with black instead of white. The mood throughout is one of melancholy: Dandel pines after Chunky, sending off note after note in bottles saysing that she misses him; his roommate tries to fill the empty void with a pet bird and recalls his complex relationship with his domineering father; and Chunky himself can't decide if leaving was a good idea or not. It feels unfinished in the end, but perhaps that is the feeling that Thompson wanted to convey, that life is a journey and we have to move on with each new stage. Dandel doens't want to leave her life and go with Chunky, so she stays behind but is unable to move on and becomes depressed. Near the end of the book Chunky is standing at the bow of the boat, looking ahead at what is sure to be a new life, but the last panel (which I won't reveal here) calls this all into question. Was Chunky right to leave, or should he have stayed behind with something he knew to be good? Goodbye, Chunky Rice is deceptively simple on first read, but upon reflection there are layers and questions, but not necessarily simple answers.
Rating: 3.5 (of 5)

My Own Little Empire
by Scott Mills
My Own Little Empire is yet another naval gazing story about directionless kids in high school. It's set in Maryland in 1990, but really it's pretty much like every other comic of its ilk. Mills presents us with a series of vignettes about dull, boring kids doing dull, boring things, with nothing much of a plot or point to speak of. I really liked Mills' previous effort, Big Clay Pot, but My Own Little Empire was a huge disappointment for me.
Rating: 2 (of 5)

1 comment:

bottleHeD said...

I partly agree with the Kockalka rant. While i really like his art, most of what he's written hasn't really appealed to me. Like, the first issue of Peanutbutter And Jeremy, it's cute, but i didn't see the point to it..