Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Find of the week: Spumco Comic Book

I picked this up from Orbital Comics in London for a measly £2.50. Illustrated by Jim Smith, this is a comic book off shoot of the fantastically twisted animated series Ren and Stimpy. Named after Ren and Stimpy creator John Kricfalusi's own animation house, the comic mimics Kricfalusi's iconic style to the tee and features two of his lesser known (but equally hilarious) charecters George Liquor and Jimmy the Idiot Boy. The comic is short but sweet, big, colourful, and offensive, all of which make it appealing for children and adults alike. Kricfalusi with his Ren and Stimpy cartoons managed to combine his fanboy love and admiration for the classic animation of the Fleischer Brothers, Chuck Avery, and Disney(*1), with more than a hint of the grotesque and the out and out creepy. This resulted in many of the episodes of the show being banned (although thankfully these banned episodes are available on the DVD boxsets). I have to admit that I didn't get Ren and Stimpy when I was younger, I found it crude, and thought it was simply toilet humour and violence. It seems strange that my appreciation for it would be rekindled as an adult precisely when I'm not supposed to find those kind of things funny. But that is because I understand there is actually more to Ren and Stimpy than that: the hints at satire, and the mix match of 50's values and kitsch with a psychotic, unnerving, and surrealist edge made it unlike any other children's cartoon out there, and the shocking fact was that this cartoon was aimed at children. But children want violence and children want weirdness, and the very fact that the children were being given what they want back then must have been refreshing. But now that we live in an age where all our children's programmes are done in CG, and are all too glossy, shiny, happy, with annoying songs and voices, and overtly PC (*2), I know what kind of programme I'd rather my (imaginary) children were watching.
Anyway, I've noticed I've made a major digression there. The comic itself will make you laugh. The existence of the Idiot Boy in cartoons doesn't seem as possible in this day and age but the staggered punchline concerning him evading potential trouble at every turn simply because he's a 'cute little moron' is pleasant enough. The star of the strip however has to be George Liquor. His strip is written in classic Ren and Stimpy style with great back and forth dialouge between George and the Dirty Mouth Bass and a great tounge in cheek pay off at the end. Every panel is animated, you can hear the sound effects and the music, even sense the comic pauses, it reads just like the Ren and Stimpy show in your head. This neat little package is wrapped up with a great advertisement for Spumco toys in which 'the great nations' (of the USA and China) 'have temporarily buried their differences for the good of Spumco'. Check out Spumco.

(*1) Which you can see if you look at John K's Blog here.
(*2) There is obviously good 'safe' children's TV out there. Sesame Street is an obvious example of multi-culturalism that doesn't seem like it's trying to hard and benefits from Jim Henson and cool animation.

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