Monday, August 2, 2010

Bart Simpson # 54

What I try to do with reviews at this Bookshelf blog is keep it simple and spoiler-free, and let you know whether I'd recommend you pick up a copy of what I just read. Seems to work okay. This time, a brief review of Bart Simpson # 54 (Bongo, 2010)

Sad to say that we're coming to an end of the big stacks of Simpsons comics that have been teetering around this house for years; only medium-sized stacks await us in the future. I told my son to make some changes in the various subscriptions that I finance and to have his mother pick up some slack from stores in Louisville - she won't, of course - and so he has elected to scale back to just one monthly title from Bongo's line. The bimonthly Bart Simpson got the axe and so we picked up our last issue, for now, from Bizarro Wuxtry in Athens. Not that Louisville's lacking a good funnybook store - their Great Escape branch is terrific - but I don't think there's any way in hell we can get his mother to send money to Athens for Bart Simpson comics.

I think it's pretty bad timing on everybody's part. Not only has the Simpsons' publisher, Bongo, finally got a website up and running, but the Bart title has gotten stronger with each issue thanks to regular contributions from cartoonists and creators not normally seen on licensed properties. I was unfamiliar with Carol Lay and Peter Kuper despite extensive credits in comics, but they both contributed really funny stuff in Bart Simpson # 54. Kuper's story, in which a firecracker explosion leaves Bart deaf, mute, color blind and an easy target for the unscrupulous Mr. Burns, is a real scream.

I'm more familiar with Sergio Aragon├ęs, of course, and he has his standard single page comic in each issue that's always worth seeing. Evan Dorkin, best known for Milk & Cheese and his never-published-frequently-enough Dork!, also has a few pages, and, oddly, the only thing that I didn't like about them is the lettering. Something had struck me as "off" about the pages, and when Dorkin mentioned on his blog last week that deadline doom had forced him to turn in a comic recently for somebody else to letter, that's when it clicked. This is a really funny little story, but the trademark Simpsons lettering, oddly, just doesn't do the mayhem justice.

I think Bongo's line is a no-brainer. Three bucks gets you some clever little comics packed with in-jokes and silliness suitable for everybody with a funny bone. Happily recommended.

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