Thursday, October 1, 2015

Thirty Days of Short Reviews #1: The Bizarre Adventures of Gilbert & Sullivan

The Bizarre Adventures of Gilbert & Sullivan, by Laura Howell (Soaring Penguin Press). This collection of shorts posits the famous composers of light opera as strange, wacky shonen manga action heroes. It's drawn very much in that style, with superdeformed, cute character designs, "mecha" robots, etc. Howell takes a page out of the Kate Beaton playbook in the way she mines history and the arts to create a recognizable world around her characters. Unlike Beaton, Howell is doing this just as an extended goof, without the pointed satirical wit that Beaton often employs. While Howell is willing to go deep into the history of art and music for the source material for her gags, the resulting jokes are pretty cheap and silly. In its essence, it's a well-executed high concept gag that's well designed and drawn expressively in the style that Howell chooses to ape. If you like Gilbert and Sullivan and intentionally dumb situational gags derived from manga adventures, then is literally the comic for you. On its own, it's an enjoyable piffle.

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