Comical Musings

Tag: squirrel

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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Review: Sandra and Woo

by on Aug.17, 2009, under Review

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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