Tuesday, April 14, 2009
Comic Review: Stupid, Stupid Rat Tails #1-3
Written by Tom E. Sniegoski
Illustrated by Jeff Smith
Published by Cartoon Books
Before Fone Bone, before Smiley Bone, and before Phony Bone, there was Big Johnson Bone--mighty explorer, master trapper, and story-teller extraordinaire. When he, his pack mule, and his recently acquired talking monkey named Mr. Pip are picked up by a Texas-style twister, they're dropped smack dab in the famous Valley, and it's all too obvious that they're not in Kansas anymore. They find themselves in the midst of a territory expansion waged by the rat creatures.
Befriended by a survivor group of wildlife orphans (including a dragon who can't breathe fire, but throws a pretty mean rock), Big Johnson Bone organizes them in an effort to defeat the rat creatures, save the orphans, and stake himself another name to fame.
I was a little wary about the fact that Jeff Smith was only illustrating this time, leaving the writing up to Tom E. Sniegoski, but Sniegoski managed to capture Smith's storytelling style and tone pretty well. And I know this is basically an all-ages book, but I can't help but wonder if he was tempted to make reference to the obvious sexual double entendres nonetheless (Big Johnson, Bone, BJ Bone, etc.) The art, of course, was simple and crisp, beautifully done just as in the original series. The woodland characters were mostly just bit parts, but both Mr. Pip and Big Johnson were fleshed out rather well. Big Johnson himself seemed to possess qualities similar to his three famous descendants, but was also a character all his own. He had a story to tell for every occasion, and even though you know he was more than a little full of shit, you wanted to hear the rest of it anyway. The rat creatures were their normal, stupid selves--perhaps a little less vicious here. It was nice to see a little prehistory of the Valley, including the back story to the Tail-Cutting-Off-Day, but I must admit that I missed the more mystical aspects of the franchise that were absent here.
My only complaints would be the recurrence of the 'orphan animal' theme, which had already been used before; and three issues simply wasn't enough. It was over all too quickly, and I wanted more adventures of Pip and Johnson. It wasn't as fascinating, or as fun, or as sweepingly epic as Bone...but then again, few things in this life are.
Required reading, if you're a Bone Head.