This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!
I regularly make the claim that I “don’t believe in spoilers.” And that’s like 90% true – if a work can be “spoiled” by learning one detail of what happens in it, it’s probably not going to be a thing I enjoy anyway. There are exceptions to this, of course, and there are the odd movie or series that I wish I could revisit without any knowledge of what it’s about. Like, can you imagine how cool it would be to watch The Truman Show without any idea that Truman is part of a giant reality TV show? The movie so patiently teases both the character and the audience with the reality of the situation before blowing the doors off about 20 minutes in. Skottie Young and Jorge Corona’s Middlewest 1 takes a similarly patient approach to revealing the reality of the world of their story, but the hints are everywhere. Continue reading →
Today, Greg and Drew are discussing Bob’s Burgers 2, originally released September 24th, 2014.
Greg: It’s interesting to see how longform installment-based storytelling, like comics or TV, has transitioned from being primarily self-contained stories that one can jump into at anytime to telling one long, overarching story that one must view from beginning to end using individual units simply as content demarcators. Obviously I’m way the heck oversimplifying and generalizing, but comedies in particular have a storytelling hurdle to jump: to keep laughing at characters’ fundamental behaviors, their behaviors must remain fundamentally the same, yet in this new vanguard of serialized storytelling where folks binge lots of content in a row, we kind of demand characters to change. Slightly paradoxical, I am thus unsurprised, if just a tad disappointed, that in its second issue Bob’s Burgers seems to be going purely episodic, settling into a formula that shows just how rigidly defined this title will be. And yet, the issue is just so damn funny that I have trouble complaining too much.
Today, Greg and Spencer are discussing Bob’s Burgers 1, originally released August 27th, 2014.
Greg: Imagination, particularly as a kid, is a powerful, revealing thing. It’s your subconscious untethered, playing make-believe and laying out your attitudes and ideals in surprisingly intimate detail. When I was a kid, my friends were keen on playing the most violent versions of Dragon Ball Z and Star Wars possible — all fighting, all the time. I was more concerned with making sure the good guys stayed good and the bad guys — only if they really deserved it — got beat up and, ideally, learned their lesson. In this first issue, we get a glimpse into the fantasies and insecurities of Tina, Louise, and Gene Belcher, as Bob’s Burgers lays out three stories of imagination.
Today, Drew and Greg are discussing Pretty Deadly 4, originally released January 22nd, 2013.
Drew: One of the best pieces of writing advice I ever received was from our very own Patrick Ehlers: exposition doesn’t feel like exposition if the audience wants that information. He may not have been the first writer to observe that, but I certainly wasn’t the last who needed to hear it. Narratives should draw us in, not simply parade across our consciousness. One of the most direct ways to make the audience curious is to pose a question — it can be as central to the story as wanting to know who killed Laura Palmer, or as inconsequential as wanting to know who’s supposed to call whom Ishmael. Of course, it’s possible to overdo it with the questions — if there are too many the story stops being mysteriously alluring and starts becoming frustratingly confusing. Pretty Deadlyhas spent a significant time in that latter category, and while issue 4 may not fully succeed in changing that, it certainly takes some steps in the right direction. Continue reading →
Today, Greg and Shelby are discussing Pretty Deadly 2, originally released November 27, 2013.
Greg: There’s a difference between something feeling “challenging” and “hard”. The way I visualize it – and be forewarned, this is going to be super dumb – a brain approaches a thing that’s “challenging” like a cocky knight approaching a dragon: he knows he will be tested, but he knows he can ultimately triumph based on his skills. Conversely, a brain approaches a thing that’s “hard” like a cocky knight approaching a titanium wall that goes on forever: try as he might, all he’s gonna be able to do is bash his head against the wall.
This issue of Pretty Deadly feels like a titanium wall. One that’s particularly pretty, mind you.
Today, Scott and Greg are discussing Pretty Deadly 1, originally released October 23rd, 2013.
Scott: I tend to categorize the things I read. When you spend a good chunk of your time reviewing media like I do, it’s convenient to have have certain genre-descriptors at the ready. It’s not quite as simple as labeling something a drama, comedy, thriller or horror- most stories are more complex than that- but finding the combination of nouns to aptly describe the subject. Once in a while, however, something comes along that defies categorization entirely. Something that no combination of nouns can do justice. Something like Pretty Deadly. At first glance this comic looks like a Western, but the structure of this first issue says otherwise. I don’t know what to make of it. I can only categorize it as uncategorizable. As a reviewer, it’s a bit frustrating, but as a comic book reader, I love it. Continue reading →