Review: Scurvy Dogs: Rags to Riches trade paperback (AIT/PlanetLar)

Thursday, November 08, 2007

[This review comes from Doug Glassman:]

Tales from the Bully Pulpit is one of the two funniest comics I’ve ever read. This next trade collects the other. After reading Andrew Boyd and Ryan Yount’s Scurvy Dogs: Rags to Riches from AIT/PlanetLar, you’ll probably never view Pirates of the Caribbean in the same way ever again.

Essentialy, Scurvy Dogs is about a small group of pirates who do what pirates do: pillage, drink, fight monkeys, fight hobos and get roped into show business. The pirates are led by Blackbeard -- yes, the actual Blackbeard, whose death is recounted by the crayon drawings of elementary school student Shirley Johansen. Under his command are the deranged Pappy (who has many different stories on how he lost his hand), Jefe (who has a vulture on his shoulder), McDougal (the boxer) and Shanghai Pete (the mute). McDougal and Pete get the short stack, though McDougal has one of the best sight gags early on in the book. It involves lightboxing and retracing a panel, and I’m not spoiling it here.

It’s absurdist and simply drawn, but sometimes, humor only needs simple artwork. It’s all in black-and-white; color really wouldn’t add anything. Yount likes to exaggerate his figures and use shadows to his advantage. The art and writing work in tandem, as Boyd often uses silent panels to allow the reader to figure jokes out.

One might notice that the trade is a little thick for a five-issue series. That’s because Boyd and Yount include a ton of extras. There are design sketches, guest sketches, a back-up story from Vampirella and an interview with the authors. But most important is a huge section of commentary. In tiny text, Boyd and Yount go through the stories and recount the inspiration for the characters and situations. They also point out inside jokes and make fun of their work. This is something I would love to see in other books, but then I’m a big sucker for commentary tracks on DVDs.

All of the above only costs $12.95, making this book a steal. Everyone who loves pirates should give this book a shot. And who doesn’t love pirates? (Well, maybe ninjas.) Obviously, this is a required book for Pastafarians, who could perhaps use it as a recruiting tool a la Chick tracts.

RAmen.

[Contains full covers, commentary sections, introduction from Adam Beechen, sketches, back-up story, fake interview. $12.95]
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