Friday, December 31, 2021

31 Days Of CCS, #37: Steve Thueson

Steve Thueson's kids' comic Timothy Dinoman Saves The Cat works on a number of different levels. It is a parody of just about every James Bond spy trope imaginable. Unlike the way this was spoofed by the Austin Powers movie, the ridiculousness of each trope is more-or-less allowed to stand on its own without a lot of extra silliness or meta humor tacked on. Thueson is totally invested in the action portion of this comic, with its humor inherent in its premise and the side relationships. When Timothy Dinoman is fighting a madman's henchman atop a train, it's serious (if fun!) business. In this regard, this comic moves a lot like a Jeff Smith Bone comic or a Carl Barks Donald Duck comic. 

The premise, which is not explained in the main story, is there's a good-guy spy who is a walking, talking iguanadon, wearing a smart black turtleneck and blazer. He also wears an eyepatch. His mission is to stop a Blofeld-style Bond supervillain named Bowman from stealing a satellite and enacting his evil scheme. Thueson does something very important in how he writes this comic. Most spy storiess suffer from a protagonist problem: their only goal is to fulfill a mission, which doesn't have much emotional impact. In fact, their antagonists usually have a much more impassioned story and reason for doing things. It may be evil, but it is sincere. 

Thueson side-steps this problem by making Timothy's real purpose saving and then adopting the villain's pet cat. It also ties into his friendship with his tech partner and friend Jen, and even cleverly becomes part of the plot when Timothy realizes there's a tracker on the cat that allows Bowman to kidnap her. This adds a layer of emotional depth to the story that's needed, making the mission personal. 

Timothy has to battle Bowman's henchman and outwit a thief Bowman hires, in addition to rescuing his cat and best friend. Thueson's problem-solving in figuring out the mechanics of fights, flying around in jetpacks, fighting on top of a train, and finally using shoe-jets to fight near a blimp are all accentuated by his thick, color-absorbing line. His character design is amusing but he doesn't use funny drawings, per se. It's all part of respecting the genre aspects of the comic while still gently spoofing it. The back-up feature, detailing his origin story, is well-suited to providing a fun info dump, instead of shoehorning it into the main story. It allows for fluid, logical storytelling that doesn't bog down in extra details. All we care about are Timothy, the cat, his friend, and the mission; all other details are extraneous. The silly details he does add (like the thief being obsessed with waffles) simply add to the fun of a successful book for kids. 

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