Comical Musings

Tag: odd couple

Review: Dume

by on Mar.15, 2010, under Review

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: Nicky510

by on Jan.25, 2010, under Review

“Attention Deficit Disorder” gets bandied about rather carelessly these days, with the original medical diagnosis being tossed out the window in favor of general distractability. This fails to take into account the rest of the disorder—the mood swings, the frustration of always losing your train of thought, the way it can take hours to write up an essay that should be dashed off in no time at all because something else happens to




You’re still here? Oh, shoot, the whole review thing. Anyway, attention span can be a crucial thing for cartoonists, especially if they’re trying to write up something with a cohesive plot (much less a coherent one). And that’s where Nicky510, a comic produced by a guy called “Crow,” runs into a bit of a snag.

In some ways, Nicky510 seems to be trying very hard to set itself up as a successor to Calvin & Hobbes:

Nicky510 briefly visits the idea of a Suzie Derkins analogue as well, although she hasn’t been seen since. Unlike Calvin, however, Nicky has an older brother named Lex, who generally serves as a nerdy, sour-pussed foil to Nicky’s wide-eyed antics. As a cranky and rule-bound nerd myself, I almost feel miffed.

The art follows a simple style that spares a little detail for foreground figures and usually leaves the background as an assumption—it would translate well to a newspaper format, although it does occasionally color in one detail or two to aid the punch line. Following again in Calvin & Hobbes‘s footsteps, kids are depicted as being about a foot and a half tall, although Nicky is a lot more smiley than Calvin tended to be.

I mentioned attention span as a potential hang-up for Nicky510, and I suppose I should get around to mentioning what I mean. Starting in October 2008, Crow began to post single-panel gag comics in the middle of the story. By July or so, he’d promoted the single-panel gags to a weekly feature . . . but they’re still plunked down in the middle of the story comics. I personally get a bit of a snicker from a lot of them (even if they show an odd squid fixation), but they’d probably be better served as a separate comic series in their own directory, rather than tossed pell-mell into the middle of Nicky’s storyline.

Those issues aside, Nicky510 is entertaining, and while it plays up the homage enough to border on discomfort, it’s still worth a good chuckle or two.

Comic Rating: 10 mg of Adderall per day.

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