Amazing Gumball – You’ll Laugh, You’ll Cry
It has been a long while since I literally laughed out loud on the basis of funny artwork on its own. Like, even though comedy is my favorite genre in all media, I am that person everyone knows who barely exhales a surplus of air whilst maintaining a serious face in order to show a joke has landed. I don’t even smirk. I slightly nod my head once and let air out of my nose. Silently. That’s how you know I am enjoying a joke. Or, more accurately, that’s how you don’t know I’m enjoying a joke.
Then along comes this collection of stories based on Cartoon Network’s The Amazing World of Gumball and my fellow passengers on the bus just had to look directly at my face with fear and confusion being reflected on their eyes. I was laughing. Hard. The sounds of agonizing mules were coming out of my mouth in a move my brain tagged as “socially acceptable laughter”.
It’ll Help You Reconnect with your Inner Child
I finally know what is like to ride a bus alone. It is glorious and would whole-heartedly recommend, especially if you, like me, suffer from longer than average legs with extra sensitive knees. The 128 kbps folk music coming out of the driver’s Bluetooth speakers were inevitable, though.
I discovered what the actual sound of my laughter is thanks to this book. Specifically, Jen Hickman’s mastery of comedic expressions on a story titled Carrie’s Body featured inside this softcover compilation. Just right now I had to go through the preview copy once again in order to confirm the grammar of Jen’s last name. In order to reach the page with the name, I had to glimpse them again. Those expressions. Those awesome expressions.
Once again, I laughed. Fortunately, I am the only living thing in my room, so the only victim of my sonorous crime is that one ghost created by the grudge of a former lover that may or may not have died due to unforeseen consequences of one of my actions.
And Carrie’s Body is but only one story among the hundreds* of stories contained inside this book. Best part is that most of the writers involved actually display either their love for the TV show their stories are based on, or at least show their love of money by showing they are capable of emulating its writing style for a living.
Many a panel contain banter and dialogue that I could not help but hear in their respective character’s voice. Great job all around. Except, maybe, you, Terry Blas. Look, man, you’re not terrible at writing comic book stories, on the contrary, but you are clearly in love right now. Maybe you have just started a relationship, or maybe it’s your SO’s anniversary and you wanted to give them the gift of a comic. And while that is amazing, and your story is nice and all, it was the one that felt the least Gumball-y of the bunch.
Terry Blas, keep on trucking and keep on loving… but also keep on trying to emulate the writing style of the franchise you’re working with, man. It’d be great for you, for portfolio purposes, and for us, for pop culture digestion purposes. It’s a win-win, okay? So, next time I see your name, and I DO expect to see your name again, let’s make it sure that we’re in sync with our corporate overlords, capisce?
As is custom for these anthology things, every single story features a wildly different style. You know the drill. These here are a bunch of artists that have had vastly different life experiences that led them to grab the pencil in a particular way throughout childhood, resulting in each one’s unique professional doodling.
Some of these are gorgeous to look at. Some are just to look at. But none strays far enough into any corner of the artistic axis to make the audience incapable of recognizing the characters they came here to read about. Even though it does feel very very weird to see previously-3D-rendered characters reduced to black-ink-outlines with color inside, I cannot blame the artists rather than the medium. This is how comics work. Especially when you are a consecrated 2D artist.
A Book for the Soulful and the Soulless
However, if there is something not nice to be said about Adventures in Elmore is the compilation in and on itself. Not that it exists. Rather how it was arranged. For some odd reason, three of the not-so-strong stories open up the book. Which is odd. I mean, don’t get me wrong, these are all stellar stories. But some are less stellar than others.
The point is, I always assumed that you were supposed to open with the best one in order to reel in unsuspecting readers, not open up with a nice story featuring terrible lettering that seemed to sometimes swallow punctuation marks. But only seemed. Because it was not good lettering, not because the writer is bad at the grammars. The periods and commas were definitely there. They were just hard to see. Because whatever font was used was not a good one.
With that negativity out of the way, I have one thing left to say: go buy this. Now. It’s worth it. Particularly if you have a soul. And especially if you don’t, this book will gift it to you.**
You can grab your copy of The Amazing World Of Gumball: Adventures In Elmore from your local comic store or via Comixology.
Leave your thoughts in the comment section below.
*Editor’s note: the book might not actually contain hundreds of stories.
**Editor’s note: the book does not actually contain the promise