Friday, February 28, 2014

Tommysaurus Rex

I have a funny relationship with Doug TenNapel's body of work.  Remember, in ye olden dayes, on ye olde Facebooke, when you could pick between a few types of relationship statuses, and one was "it's complicated"?  I'll check that box when it comes to TenNapel.

I really enjoyed Ghostopolis. Ghostopolis  Bad Island was fine ... good ... but not one of the best things I've ever read.  Cardboard, for which I think he might be best known among kids, I absolutely hated.  It felt like a trippy rip-off of Toy Story.  He recycles a lot of the same ideas and the bad characters are REALLY BLATANTLY BAD except for when they reform in which case YAY!

Anyway.  You see a lot of these ideas in Tommysaurus Rex as well.  Tommysaurus Rex
The loner kid.  He has ALL THE FEELINGS.  His parents don't understand him (actually, Ely's parents are real jerks!).  Ely loves his dog, Tommy (who is actually a girl, but Ely obviously doesn't care, so ... okay).  But then, one day, Tommy gets hit by a car and dies.  Ely is packed off to send the summer with his grandpa, who looks like one of those awesome canucks from Jeff Lemire's Essex County trilogy.  Actually, I thought I tripped and fell into a Lemire graphic novel from the sudden shift in character drawing.  Hmmm.

Grandpa makes Ely work really hard, but also treats him like an equal, which is pretty cool for Ely.  But then *cue the strings--vibrato* the Local Bully and His Goons arrive.  He's cruel, of course, unattractive (as all bullies are in TenNapel's stuff), but has a secret, soft heart made of puppies and unicorns.  It's just his Unfortunate Life that made him so mean.  *sigh*

Skipping ahead a bit, Ely finds a Tyrannosaurus Rex living in a cave.  We are just supposed to accept this, so let's just roll on ahead, eh?  Obviously, you can't keep something like that a secret, and the skeezy mayor running for reelection tells Ely that Tommy (part II) has to learn how to behave.  There's also some strange scheme to use Tommy to get himself (the mayor) reelected, but I didn't quite catch the "logic" of that part.

Tommy's not very good at doing tricks, but he is loyal and good and sweet (awwww) but deathly afraid of fire!  WARNING SPOILER AHEAD WARNING (you have been duly warned): in the end, Tommy rescues the bully from a fire but ends up with his SKIN ALL MELTED AND FUSED TOGETHER ARGH OH LORD I DIDN'T NEED TO SEE THAT THIS IS FOR KIDS!











He's meeelting...meeelting!


Ahem.  Sorry.  Run-on sentence of horror.  But THEN Ely gets the bully's dog as a "thank you" (seriously, who does that?) and Ely gives the bully Tommy's two eggs, so Ely has a dog, and the bully gets two T-Rexes.  Ely.  You're an idiot.

Yeah, so it's about friendship, and bullying=bad, and all that, but I just didn't see much originality in it.  I think this was one of TenNapel's earlier works (it was just reissued in color recently), so that might be part of it.  Evidently, you can also read it as an Easter story (I am not making this up) about resurrection/rebirth.  I find that too ecumenical for my tastes, but to each her own.

I'd probably read a new comic by TenNapel if it's anything like Ghostopolis, but I can't say I'm as enamored of his work as many people seem to be.

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