Slapstick: Odd Jobs #1

Posted by on February 22nd, 2010 at 6:42 AM

Rob reviews Eric H’s minicomic, ODD JOBS #1.

ODD JOBS #1 was one of those out-of-the-blue submissions for review that I get from time to time. Eric H just graduated from the School Of Visual Arts. and he’s clearly already developed fine comedic comics chops. His bulky protagonist, Chickenbot, is a well-designed character with the sort of weight that fills up a panel but with the sort of fluidity that makes for easy panel-to-panel transitions. Looking like a cross between Ultra Man and a chicken, he’s a slacker who is forced to find a job. The agency he visits gives him a job as a werewolf hunter, and as he walks out the door to his destination, he’s surprised to find that the building is gone and his destination (a small town wracked by a werewolf) is dead ahead of him.

From there, Eric H. spends the rest of the comic openly mocking monster-movie tropes. Chickenbot gets more and more frustrated by the townspeople who declined doing anything about the werewolf (or even cleaning up after its victims) because they “weren’t qualified”. He declines to do much investigating himself (thanks to a hangover and general laziness), knowing the werewolf will come to him. Though the job was starting to really annoy him, its terms dictated clearly that he had to finish the job if he wanted to come back. The werewolf turned out to be “adorable”, but his gun was out of ammo, which is where the comic left off.

This comic was a pleasant diversion, with witty dialogue, solid character design all-around, and a story that mocked genre conventions but still played by their rules. It was fluff, but good fluff. What I liked most about it was the way Eric H. played with story logic as a sort of repeating gag. The townspeople’s attitude toward doing things out of their qualifications, the weird nature of the temp agency, and the fact that no one seemed to notice Chickenbot’s strange appearance all led to nicely layered jokes. There was a cleanness in storytelling that was also appealing here; Eric H. wasted no time in getting straight to the point of what Chickenbot was doing, and then zipped us quickly to the town. Every page was devoted to either forwarding the story or setting up gags.

What kept it from entering the rarified air of DUNGEON and other humorous genre stories was that ODD JOBS wasn’t funny enough to be purely a humor comic, nor was it an interesting enough story to draw in a reader. There were long stretches of story that weren’t especially funny, or repeated situations instead of finding ways to layer the humor. If this is where Eric H. plans to spend a good bit of his storytelling time, he simply needs to amp up his storytelling ambitions. His wit and chops are already in place, but he needs to either make the readers care about his characters more or amp up the craziness on every page so much that it doesn’t matter.

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One Response to “Slapstick: Odd Jobs #1”

  1. chickenbot says:

    Thanks for the review!