Okay so this week I’m starting off reviewing what will be next week’s best book. On occasion we get offered the opportunity to read books prior to being published. As time is a precious commodity I usually never bother to read these. Other times much of the work is coming from smaller publishers and many times it is people who are just getting started. That means the work is often not polished and has limited appeal. Something caught my eye with this book and I’m glad I read it as this will most likely be the best book coming out next week. And next week includes the newest Batman, All New X-Men and Saga in the mix, so that is high praise indeed. In fact to see next week’s list you can click here for the quick list or here for the detailed listing.
Todd, The Ugliest Kid on Earth #1 (of 4) is offered by Image comics and is written by Ken Kristensen with art by MK (Air) Perker.
The official description is “This series, a collision of comedy, sex, and violence, follows the misadventures of America's most dysfunctional family as they go head-to-severed head with an Oprah-loving ax murderer, a cult-crazy soap opera star, and a neo-Nazi prison gang.”
The official first issue description is “Todd wants desperately to make friends, but every kid he approaches winds up decapitated. Or worse. Meanwhile, Todd's mother is on a mission to get even with her husband who she believes is having an affair.”
What I found as I read the book that this was simply put one of the funniest, much touching, smartest, over the top pieces of entertainment mixed with some social commentary I have read in a very long time. It is Mad Magazine meets Psycho as a heartwarming tale of a young boy facing life.
The story focuses on Todd, who apparently is so ugly he wears a bag over his head. This goes back to many bad jokes that have been made over the years about people and harkens to the anonymous football fan wearing bags over their heads. Perker’s art is so great that he manages to convey all the subtle emotions that Todd is experiencing with body language and eye placement even with a paper bag over his head.
Todd has a wonderful naiveté about him. From him trying to meet the new girl who just moved in, to the neighborhood bullies picking on him, to his parents’ verbal abuse of him Todd remains steadfast in his bubble of innocence. Even with the maniac killer’s not wanting to kill him, the school teacher punishing him and the police Detective who decides he is the killer, Todd is unwavering in his approach to life. He is a nice kid who is young, innocent and sweet. He has the charm of a Calvin, from Calvin and Hobbes, without the streak of badness.
The book mixes in many different things. One of the first things is the racism that is displayed by the neighborhood kids and Todd’s mother towards the new Korean family. The neighborhood bully thinks she is Japanese and when she corrects him he says “Kor-gradulations, me love you long time.” Todd’s mother is immediately racist by saying “Konnichiwa. I’m suppose to bow or something right?” Of course the bullies set Todd up and he gets in trouble for gluing the new girl’s dolls together in an uncompromising position. That theme is played over and over again in the book. Todd is always to blame for everything and almost everyone seems to have it in for Todd. Even the maniac who is severing children’s heads, after seeing Todd can’t do it as he only will decapitate beautiful children.
The book is replete with a great cast. It has parents that are from hell, to a police chief who hopes these decapitations can be his JonBenet Ramsey and bring him fame and fortune. Each character is given a distinctive look and feel to them. Again Perker’s art is just superb. It is the total package from layouts, to expressions to camera angles. Perker’s art is has so many details that just add to the humor and fun. It is all imbedded inside this tale of innocence meets psycho child killer. The absurdist nature of the story is captured perfectly by the art that makes you laugh and smile reading a story that could otherwise be considered inappropriate. It would be an error to not mention the coloring by Cemal Soylen. While I have never heard the name before Cemal’s work is outstanding. The color is a great enhancement and has almost a watercolor feel in some areas that adds to the overall great look of the book.
Of course all the great art in the world can only making a bad story look good and what we have here is a great story. The dialogue is brilliant. It is infused with a realness that many comic books lack, but also buried within the exchanges are commentaries on our society. The white bread neighbors acting like all Asians are the same, the remarks on marriage, drug therapy on children and misfortune creating opportunity in a media obsessed world.
I can’t praise this book enough. It is a warm hearted South Park ride that leaves you wanting more. This is a great story, with fun characters, terrific art and great coloring. This is the best book that you need to buy Wednesday. Hell, buy 2 and give one to someone who enjoys great comics.
Part 2, that actually talks about last week’s books, later today!