Archibald Saves Christmas #1 - A Review
Jim: As regular readers know, Lee and I comb through Previews every month and decide which are the best, and worst, books of the months. When we look at Marvel or DC we often have a good idea about the books because we are familiar with the source material. But, when it comes to the smaller press books, we base our judgment upon the cover and whatever information we can find about the artist and writers.
Lee: And, that was certainly the case with Archibald Saves Christmas. I originally chose the book purely because of the cover. And my comment was : I am getting old. Once again that fact is proven to me because I don't find this title humorous in the least. Don't get me wrong, years ago I bought "Lobo's Para Military Christmas Special" wherein Lobo killed Santa and laughed the entire time. Now that I am older, and have kids, it's no longer funny. This is for the rebellious teen crowd, just not me.
Typically, that's the end of the story but in this case, things turned out differently. The writer, Dwight MacPherson, found our blog and left a comment stating he was sorry we didn't seem to like Archibald.
Jim: Well, since Lee and I are always open to new ideas and books, we started talking to Dwight. He felt the perfect description for Archibald was Sin City meets Roger Rabbit. I don't know about Lee but I was certainly intrigued so I suggested that Dwight let us review the book. He generously provided a review copy and I'm happy to say that we were wrong - this book is very funny and extremely cool.
Lee: I have to agree with Jim. The book is far better than what the hype and my expectations were. On with the reviews…
Jim: As I said I was wrong and I really got a kick out of this book from page 1, it had me laughing. The cartoon characters are real as in Roger Rabbit, but have the sensibilities of the characters from Sin City. We open with a cartoon character who is pissed off as the crew can not get the props for the scene right and he goes cursing off to a bar. This is where we find Archibald the aardvark drowning his sorrows. I will not go into a long explanation of the book, but it is apparent that we have a decent amount of back story to learn about. The book is filled with crass humor, blood letting by cartoon characters and is out and out pure fun and hilarity. Grant Bond's artwork is wonderful and really brings these characters to life. I think it is extremely hard to sell a cartoon character mixed up in a bloody murder and still keep the tongue and cheek aspect to the entire thing. Not a book to read to little Johnny to go to bed too, but a book that an adult can enjoy as a send up of multiple genres and still make you feel for the characters. A great effort by Dwight McPherson and Grant Bond.
Lee: I have to admit that on one level I really enjoyed this book. Unfortunately, on the other level I really didn't. On the upside, the story is really good. Dwight was correct in his analogy to Roger Rabbit. The characters may be animals but after that they are as complex and flawed as any human character would be. I didn't find the story as much humorous as a funny animal crime drama ala Hitchcock. In addition to a solid story, the art was excellent. I've not heard of Grant Bond but he has some talent. He managed to evoke a Chuck Jones feel to the characters which is no small feat. He also laid the book out exceeding well, alternating between splash pages and panel pages. And even the panel pages had nice variety between vertical and horizontal panels. The only thing I wo uld comment is the constant use of a medium distance shot. Maybe a few more closeups or longer distance shots to set tone, but that's being nitpicky.
The only flaw I found in the book was the inclusion of Santa Claus. In terms of story, he is a throw away character. He is on 6 of 22 pages and one of those he is dead. He wasn't shown as anything other than Santa Claus so I imparted my perceptions onto him. I mention this because back in the day I read Lobo's Paramilitary Christmas Special and enjoyed it immensely. The difference there was Santa was portrayed as the antithesis of what we perceive Santa to be. In Lobo, Santa was mean and nasty so when Lobo killed him it was not only understandable but funny. It was so far removed from the actual Santa there weren't any misconceptions about it really being Santa. In this case, because Santa's appearance is so brief he becomes the Santa that I and my young children love and killing him isn't f unny but sad.
That said, Santa could easily have been replaced with Roger Rabbit, Mickey Mouse, or even the Easter Bunny and I would have enjoyed the story much more. It appears to be killing Santa for the shock value of killing Santa. I would recommend this because of the solid story and art and as long as you don't care about Santa.
Gwen: I didn't have an original comment on this book as I really only have time to do the DC solicitations, but as the author was kind enough to share the book with us I'd like to add in my two cents. First of all, I really loved the art work. I'm a fan of black and white as it always makes small amounts of color usage more powerful. The occasional use of red in the story helped to add a sense of surrealism, as if the reader is caught in a bad dream (which in this case is a good thing as the main character seems to feel this way at times). The story itself was both funny and intriguing. While I was a bit confused by the ending it has been suggested that parts of the story are meant to be vague. If this is the case, my criticism is mostly unfounded and I'll just have to patiently wait to read more. Overall I really enjoyed this book and look forward to more from Dwight McPherson and Grant Bond.
The official hype (which doesn't do the book justice) ARCHIBALD SAVES CHRISTMAS #1 story DWIGHT L. MacPHERSON art & cover GRANT BOND 32 PAGES, 2C, $3.50 Archibald Aardvark went insane after the brutal murders of his brother and friends. After spending five delirious years chewing on his tongue in a mental hospital, Archibald finds himself back on the spiraling streets of Tinsel Town. Desperate and alone, Archibald has two choices: catch a psychopathic murderer or blow his brains on a wall at the Hopeless Hotel. The only problem is… he may have to do one to accomplish the other.
JIM - BUY IT - TWISTED HUMOR DONE RIGHT!