Trondheim tackles the wild west in Texas Cowboys and The Godfrrrsaken Island is Luc Cromheecke’s new all-ages gag comic where anything goes.
Texas Cowboys by Trondheim & Bonhomme
The always versatile Trondheim once more stretches his creative briefs and focuses on the wild wild west through the lens of the dime novel. We follow the adventures of a reporter from the big city who is sent into the wild to Ford Worth, whose capacity for stories truly lives up to its name. In the course of events, our roving reporter will come across sympathetic outlaws, gangsters searching for their hidden loot, a poker-playing femme fatale who is as deadly with her dagger as with the cards, corrupt sheriffs and the ups and downs of life on the frontier.
Trondheim wouldn’t be Trondheim if he didn’t find his own way of presenting these western tales and every chapter is framed by a pulp novel illustration. While we follow different characters in different tales, timelines overlap and Trondheim refuses to put it all in chronological order, instead letting the story dictate the proceedings. Therefore characters appear and reappear unexpectedly and events are seen in a different light while reading the comic. It’s a rather surprising structure for this fairly straightforward graphic novel and certainly gives the stories an extra punch.
And this punch it certainly needs because while Texas Cowboys is a nice read, it’s not much more than that. The innocent-journalist-abroad point of view is a storytelling staple and while it has a few nice moments, I just couldn’t get really excited about the stories involved – except for the beautiful psycho card player, out for revenge on the men who wronged her but apparently her scarred psyche does not allow her to stop at just those men. Trondheim injects some nice dialogue and plenty of humour in this action-riddled western tale but still… it rather feels by the numbers.
Bonhomme turns in a more sketchful approach, illustrating it all with a fluid line and a muted colour palette leaving out a lot of detail that is present in his other works like Esteban and Omni-Visible. I suppose there’s a thematic reason for this but it also gives the book a more throwaway feel. It’s good work but does not really stand out from the crowd with especially the backgrounds suffering from a lackadaisical approach.
A pleasant read but not much more than that, I’d say.
Texas Cowboys by Trondheim & Bonhomme is published in French by Dupuis. It is a full colour hardcover counting 152 pages and retails for €20,50. This review was based on the Dutch edition published by Ballon Media.
The Godfrrrsaken Island by Sti & Luc Cromheecke
Luc Cromheecke is the godfather of Plunk and draws in a anarchistic, scratchy style reminiscent of both Franquin and the French big nose style and is the only Flemish artist still publishing in Spirou. For The Godfrrsaken Island he turns the madcap craziness of his signature style up to eleven and produces some of the best dynamic and illustrative pages of his career.
The Godfrrrsaken Island covers the misadventures of a shipwrecked sailor caught between talking penguins, mad pirates, hyper-intelligent pigs, native cannibal inhabitants and aliens while all he wants to do is drink rum and find a way off the island.
It’s another all ages humour book from Dutch publisher Strip 2000 and is a rather amusing read though all jokes generate more of a snigger than real laugh out loud laughter. Scenario writer Sti keeps things inventive and has created a world where anything goes but fails to inject some truly inventive scenarios. None of the humour succeeds in elevating itself above the typical bar jokes level and that’s a shame because Cromheecke’s art deserves better.
One standout gag is the one featuring the pirate impersonators of Spirou and Fantasio which succeeds in adding a bit more depth, riffing off the relationship of both characters, but turns out to be a tad too repetitive.
Maybe the creators are just getting their footing with this new series bur I’m willing to give them the benefit of the doubt. I’ll be looking forward to album number 2.
The Godfrrrsaken Island by Sti & Luc Cromheecke is published in Dutch by Strip 2000. It is a full colour softcover counting 48 pages and retails for €8,95.