HARRY POTTY AND THE DEATHLY BORING
Written by Stefan Petrucha and Illustrated by Rick Parker
Published by Papercutz
Reviewed by Avril Brown
At the risk of point out the glaringly obvious, HARRY POTTY AND THE DEALTHY BORING is a graphic novel parody on the immensely popular ‘Harry Potter’ series by J.K. Rowling. Speaking as a rabid fan of the books about the boy wizard, I was initially hesitant when I began reading HARRY POTTY…until I got to the second page.
The silly, somewhat juvenile yet still clever humor laden on each page of this book is enough to tickle even a die-hard Potter fan such as myself. There are several running gags littered throughout the story which consistently earn a chuckle, and the modified names of the characters are worth a laugh as well (Don Measley, Whiny Stranger, Dumb-As-A-Door and Valuemart aka He-Whose-Prices-Can’t-Be-Beat are a few entertaining examples). The scar on Harry’s head, though not always visible, changes in almost every panel usually to compliment a joke relevant to the current scene, and the witches and wizards of Nosewarts are all sporting plungers rather than wands.
Admittedly you have to be a fan of the original series in order to fully appreciate the play on words and ridiculously warped scenarios HARRY POTTY presents. That is not to say a Potter-ignorant individual would not be able to enjoy the crass humor and cartoon style story telling, but like any decent parody, it is funnier if you have experienced the original. Petrucha does a excellent job of touching on all of the “Potty” books in a quick, witty summation of the previous novels which include ‘The Sorcerer’s Stoned,’ ‘The Secreting Chamber Pot’ and ‘Pain in my Asskaban.’
Though there is a prolific amount of nearly every facet of bathroom humor, HARRY POTTY is nevertheless smart enough to be appreciated by individuals over the age of twelve, particularly if one is a fan of both the ‘Potter’ series and absurd parodies. Parker goes the distance with his artwork, exaggerating the characters and their comical, extreme emotions, and his spreads offer plenty of Easter egg-type details to pour over. Petrucha and Parker make quite the demented dynamic duo, and I cannot wait to tackle their next foray into funning on popular series: ‘Breaking Down,’ a spoof on the insanely explosive ‘Twilight’ books. In the meantime, HARRY POTTY is worth a read for those looking to experience a different side of the wizarding world.
TWO FROM NBM/PAPERCUTZ
Written and Drawn by Various
Published by NBM and Papercutz
Let’s take a look at a couple of new books from the folks at NBM and their Papercutz subsidiary, shall we?
I’ve been enjoying Papercutz’ resurrection of the CLASSICS ILLUSTRATED books, so I had high hopes when the latest edition, THE RAVEN AND OTHER POEMS by Edgar Allan Poe arrived in my mailbox. Seeing the name of Gahan Wilson attached as the artist only whetted my appetite even more. So I was rather surprised to put the book down upon finishing and realize that I felt somewhat disappointed by this effort. Certainly, Wilson’s illustration work is excellent; the problem comes in that this book feels like a cheat to its format. The CI brand is known for turning into comics some of the great works of literature; however, Wilson does not do this at all. Instead, he simply adds evocative illustrations alongside the text of Poe’s work. If the book weren’t part of CLASSICS ILLUSTRATED, I’d have had no problem with that; but because it is, I cannot give it my full endorsement- this is not really CLASSICS ILLUSTRATED as it is supposed to work. If you’re just looking for an accessible book of Poe’s work, this will work fine for you. But if you’re expecting a comic or graphic novel, you’ll be disappointed.
On the flip side comes a third installment from the Zenith Era of DUNGEON. “Back In Style” is written by the always amazing team of Joann Sfar and Lewis Trondheim and drawn by Boulet, and puts the focus squarely on Herbert the warrior duck. The Dungeon Keeper loses ownership of the facility, sending Herbert and Marvin on a mission back to the city of Herbert’s birth on a perilous mission… which is doubly more perilous since there is an order to behead Herbert if he ever sets foot in the town again. Throw in a funny love story, a powerful battle that finds Marvin up against impossible odds, and a fight to overthrow a Duke-dom, and you get one of the best DUNGEON books yet. The Zenith books have been my favorite in the series, though they are a bit lighter in spirit than the melancholy and emotionally more powerful efforts in the Twilight era. I’ve never done anything less than offer my maximum recommendation for any DUNGEON book, though, and I’m not about to stop now. These books are as good as comics gets.
THE INVISIBLE MAN
Written and Drawn by Rick Geary
Adapted from the Novel by H.G. Wells
Published by NBM/Papercutz
A stranger wrapped in bandages arrives in the countryside of a small town, mystifying the local populace. Curiosity grows as he tries to maintain his privacy. But eventually, the façade cracks and the secret is out: the man is invisible, seen only when he wears garments draped off of his transparent body. His name is Griffin, and his aims, while they once may have been somewhat simple, have grown horrible. Now he has murder and terror on his mind, and it remains to be seen if anyone has the courage or cleverness to stop him.
This is the second in the hardcover series of CLASSICS ILLUSTRATED reprints from the Papercutz line, following on the heels of Geary’s adaptation of GREAT EXPECTATIONS. And while this book is not the equal of Dickens’ treasure novel, that’s no slight on Geary- he’s so good at these that it’s almost scary. It’s remarkable how well he is able to distill the exposition and plot twists of a novel into a tightly plotted and scripted graphic novel. This book only suffers in comparison to GREAT EXPECTATIONS because Wells’ novel is an overrated piffle. The characters in it never come alive and entice the reader past the novelty of its lead character’s special circumstances, and there’s nothing Geary can really do about it.
Along with the paperback series of CLASSICS ILLUSTRATED books that Papercutz has released, this has proven to be an excellent move by the NBM offshoot. When you look at how awful their revival of TALES FROM THE CRYPT has been, this series has been the exact opposite: brilliant in every respect and at every turn. Highly recommended.
BIONICLE VOL 1
Written by Greg Farshtey and Drawn by Carlos D’Anda, Richard Bennett, and Randy Elliott
Published by NBM/Papercutz
The island of Mata Nui has been taken over by the villainous Makuta, transforming it into a terrible, awful place. Seemingly no one can save the natives and free them of their burdens. But when all hope appears lost, help finally arrives in the form of six warriors, known as the Toa. These heroic robot creatures (everything is a robot creature in this world) have come to seek the Kanohi Masks of Power, weapons which will enhance their powers and allow them to contend against Makuta and emerge victorious. But first, they must navigate the dangers of the island, and those… those are many.
I wish I could tell you that this book, which offers up the early background on the BIONICLE characters and world, lives up to the interesting description above, but unfortunately it does not. Now, I have to offer up a caveat: I have always disliked robot stories like this (for example the Transformers) because I feel they represent poorly on the page and it requires superb artistry to keep the individual robot characters looking, well, individual. So take this with that grain of salt if you must. But BIONICLE is a muddled mess. The characters are nearly impossible to tell apart, the stories don’t do enough to delineate their actual personalities… it was a slog to get through this, because I had no idea what was going on.
Maybe I need to be a 12-year old kid to read this and get it. They are more likely to know about the actual Lego/Bionicle toy line and to know the characters by sight. That said, for the book to have the broadest possible appeal, it needed to work harder to make the newbie “get it.” And I definitely didn’t get it.
Written by Charles Dickens
Adapted and Drawn by Rick Geary
Published by NBM/Papercutz
If you haven’t read GREAT EXPECTATIONS, the odds are that you slept through your freshman year of high school. However, if for some reason you’re a functional illiterate or a literary philistine, here’s the story: a young boy named Pip, raised by his nasty sister and kindly step-brother, is hired to be the playmate of a rich girl named Estella. Estella has been raised by the rich and crazy Mrs. Havisham to be the ultimate heartbreaker, and she has her effect on Pip. However, his life takes a wild turn when a lawyer shows up announcing Pip has come under the financial backing of a mysterious benefactor, with the goal that he becomes a gentleman. Along the way, he’ll learn the truth about his backer and continue trying to thaw out Estella’s heart. It’s one of the greatest works in the history of English literature. Read it, dammit.
Papercutz has acquired the back catalog of CLASSICS ILLUSTRATED with the goal of returning many of those amazing graphic adaptations to print, and GREAT EXPECTATIONS is the first of the series. It’s a wise choice for the honor, for many reasons. First, it’s a timeless, brilliant story. Second, Rick Geary’s work on it is absolutely brilliant. He truly captures the essence of Dickens’ story and characters better than just about anyone working in comics could do today. As he’s shown in his TREASURY OF VICTORIAN MURDER series, he knows the time period, offering up wonderful clothing, tapestries, and architecture in his backgrounds.
He also knows how to squeeze in as much of the full story as possible, using solid storytelling to create shortcuts when needed and expansive moments to emphasize the emotional content when required. The CLASSICS line may not all be as successful as this one, but if they’re all at least half as good, they’ll be worth buying.