Sunday, July 5, 2009

Dr. Slump vol. 18

Here's how this works. I read a book or two and tell you about them and try not to get too long-winded. This time, a review of Dr. Slump vol. 18 (Viz, 2009).

I decided a few months back against reviewing every volume in an ongoing series - the first, the last and every fifth one would do just fine. Well, back in October, I suggested that if you'd made it as far as the 16th volume of Dr. Slump, then you might as well see things through to the end. I don't know that I was right. By the end of the series, Akira Toriyama was clearly bored out of his mind. Weeks went by with his attention split between the excitement of his new series Dragon Ball and his newfound interest in motorcycles, and limping along to his contractually obligated concluding episodes of Dr. Slump affter five years was no longer what he wanted to do. So more than half the episodes in this final, slightly oversized edition sideline everything you were looking for from Dr. Slump in order to introduce new characters on motorcycles. Amusingly, Toriyama even admits this in the narrative, but his honesty doesn't excuse some lazy, tired comics. I mean, they look great, but your interest in them is pretty much going to require that you really, really like motorcycles.

So at last it's over. I'd like to send a small public thanks to Viz for publishing all of the original Japanese editions, and getting them all out there at the original $7.99 price before their line-wide increase begins. Hearty Bookshelf applause to Rich Amtower and Alexander O. Smith for their hard work as well. The series ended up disappointing me in the end, but if you'd told me twenty-three years ago, when I first encountered Dr. Slump, that I'd one day be able to buy English editions of the entire series, I'd have said you were loopy. Sure, it falls apart by the end, but the first twelve books are absolutely essential for houses with kids. For a good while there in the early eighties, Dr. Slump was one of the best gag comics around, and if you've got preteen kids in the house, you'll not be wrong in having the first dozen collections of this series available.

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