Wednesday, May 11, 2011

31 Days of Comics #11

Zoot Suite
By Andrew and Roger Langridge.

A New Zealand comic artist found massive critical and commercial success with his work on a well-loved puppet property, but you couldn’t find that stuff in his native country because of rights issues. That’s mental, and that’s why I haven’t read Roger Langridge’s Muppet comics yet.

His Thor comics have infinite charms, although it was slightly disappointing to discover that even a really good Thor comic is nowhere near as good as the swinging dick of Kirby Thor. Knuckles the Malevolent Nun tried a bit too hard to be nasty, Fred The Clown tried a bit too hard to be sad, and the less said about the Straitjacket Fits comic, the better. So it was kinda surprising to realise Langridge’s Zoot comics were still my favourite work of his.

There is loads of that wonderfully blocky cartooning in this early wook, and with his brother Andrew, Roger Langridge’s comics are baffling, mysterious and can go fucking anywhere. There is a story about being out at night and stuck far from home that is drenched in universality, and a story about the Worst Date Ever that is also painfully familiar – we all know a Tarquin.

In between these little pieces of painful fun, there is a dictionary of Oubliettes, the adventures of No Shit Man, Spitoon Funnies and the world’s slowest Egg and Spoon Race (a strip for the lazy cartoonists).

Much of it is utter nonsense – the endpapers of the collected Zoot Suite feature the word “blardy’ repeated over and over again – but it’s all good fun and wonderful to see proto-Langridge as the artist quickly nails his style.

I usually buy any of Langridge’s comics as soon as I see them, but I had to go all the way to San Francisco to get Zoot Suite. It shouldn’t be that hard to get comics by an Auckland boy, but they’re always worth that extra effort.

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