Posts Tagged raccoon

Review: Dume

Let me preface this week’s review by saying that the place I work had a big fund-raising event over the weekend—the night before Daylight Savings Time, choir rehearsal, and a handful of other activities. So while no alcohol was involved for yours truly, there was still enough running about and acting energetic that I’m running on fumes. So if this review comes off as something of a wreck, it’s just art imitating life.

I’m an Ohioan, born and bred, which says the following about me:

  • I grew up surrounded by history, mosquitoes, and Amish folk.
  • My classmates had names like Frajter, Slepko, and Rzeszotarski, but somehow spelling “Shepherd” was beyond anyone’s grasp.
  • I think of Cleveland as a major metropolitan area, no matter how much this makes people laugh.
  • I have a love-hate relationship with Nature, which is sometimes adorable and placid . . . but also has a disturbing tendency to devour the garden, dig up the foundations of various outbuildings, leave “presents” for people to step in, fling itself under the bumper or at the windshield with wild abandon, and get itself trapped in the dumpster where it caterwauls for help.

One animal particularly adept at the dumpster-diving arts is the raccoon. So prevalent and hilarious is the raccoon in the area around my hometown that the whole county takes its name from the local native word for the little fuzzy bandits.

So when a friend directed me to read Dume, on account of one main character being a raccoon from Ohio, how could I resist? Well, as Randall the raccoon himself states, the real protagonist (and title character) is Dume, a chubby otter who was raised by hippie sandpipers and splits his time between sport and harassing his roommate in implausible ways.

And really, that’s just about the whole plot right there: The Odd Couple with surfboards. Sure, there’s a twitchy barista and the Little Red-Haired (fox) Girl, but most of the jokes revolve around Dume bothering Randall with his cheese-monkey randomness.* He even winds up with another character to provide the crazy when Dume’s just not enough.

The art, at least, is pleasant enough and consistent from one strip to the next. Sometimes it’s even self-referential. Some of the jokes and facial expressions remind me of Bloom County, for whatever reason, but not enough to set off any warnings. And sometimes it’s fun to see how far they can stretch things.

Of course, Dume hasn’t updated in close to six months now, having come to a halt just after an author-insert comic. I’m not sure whether to take that as Jonas and Rayce running out of ideas, time, or enthusiasm. Perhaps they’re merely taking a break until better waves come along.

Comic Rating: three hefty piles of neurosis.

* Sometimes, Jonas and Rayce do it to us instead for a change of pace.

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Review: Sandra and Woo

A few hours before writing this review, I was cleaning out a closet (the joys of moving and resettling) and got clocked in the forehead by an unexpected large decorative glass thing-a-ma-bob. It inspired a good deal of pain, dizziness, nausea, and nostalgia for all things that involve surprise attacks by somewhat softer things. Calvin and Hobbes, for instance.

So imagine my delight when I remembered the comic Sandra and Woo, written by Oliver Knörzer, drawn by Powree, and copy edited by Sarah Dunphy. This is one of the first officially multilingual comics I’ve reviewed, being also available in German. Seeing as my own skill with German only goes up to recognizing what an eszett is, however, I’ll have to limit myself to reviewing the English portion of the comic.

The combination of a German writer, an Indonesian artist, and an American editor leads to some interesting complications for the comic. Speech bubbles that would be fine for a sentence in German wind up being rather loose around a laconic English equivalent. And sometimes the translation doesn’t account for styles of speech, leading to the oddly charming “be damned!” moment or two. And the art is unabashedly Asian in style. That last part isn’t really a complaint, other than the big sparkly eyes and Hime Cut on a girl named Sandra North feeling strangely incongruous.

Another side effect of the multinational team-up is that the comic will occasionally take a turn for the political. Sometimes it’s part of a plot arc, but rather often it just sort of pops up out of the blue.

On the one hand, Sandra and Woo acknowledges the influence of Calvin and Hobbes quite openly–and does it twice, just to make sure. On the other, Hobbes’ token solo adventure didn’t end in a spin-off set of friends or successful hunting, so Knörzer is safe from any copyright infringement problems. (Granted, Bill Watterson would have to get past all those Calvin-defiles-a-logo truck stickers first anyway.)

Sandra does, however, share Calvin’s capacity for sophisticated sarcasm, as well as his strong eco overtones. Of course, she also lives in a world where just about all animals have proven human intelligence, so saving various wildlife species may be more an exercise in keeping the neighbors happy. Of course, given that people can legally (or at least openly) keep raccoons as pets in her world, I may be way off base.

Sandra’s precociousness may seem a bit strange at first, especially to those who haven’t read Calvin and Hobbes, but it makes a good deal more sense once you realize that Sandra probably had to grow up really quickly. Her mother is deceased, and her father doesn’t always pay her terribly much attention. (In fact, as one of my friends pointed out, it seems like all of the adults are video game addicts for one reason or another. At least it seems to come in handy sometimes.) And now she has to deal with a talking raccoon that could almost seem like an imaginary friend . . . or schizophrenic hallucination. An extensive vocabulary doesn’t seem like such a big deal now, does it?

So in the end, has Calvin and Hobbes found a weekly successor? You’ll have to answer for yourself, but this pun tips the scales for me.

Comic Rating: Three stuffed animals. They couldn’t eat another bite.

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