Monday, 23 July 2007

Edge City (Comic strip)

I love comic strips – not the superhero type, but the Calvin & Hobbes, Disney and Franco-Belgian (Bande Dessinée) types. These are the ones I grew up with, due largely to my father’s extensive library of these titles. Uncle Scrooge, Asterix, Tintin, Spirou and many others were household names for me ever since I remember. That created one minor problem – what could I buy, that my father didn’t own already?

This was when I first discovered the Brazilian comic books of Mauricio de Sousa, which I only stop buying in my late teens – my large collection now lies in boxes somewhere in my parents’ garage due to lack of space. And then was “Calvin and Hobbes”. It was no accident. It was being published in one newspaper in Portugal, and my only experience with daily comic strips had been a pleasure – the Argentinean strip “Mafalda” by Quino, which lasted only 10 years from the mid-sixties to the mid-seventies and is still my personal favourite. So I bought Calvin’s book when it came out in Portugal (circa 1992 I think). From then on, there have been some favourites (FoxTrot, Stone Soup, Baby Blues, Non Sequitur, Madam & Eve), one to which I have mixed feeling (Garfield), one that started very well and became increasingly uninteresting (Adam@home) and some that never went further than the one volume (Rose is Rose, Heart in the City, Zits, probably a few others).

All this because I bought the first volume of “Edge City” a comic strip by Terry and Patty Laban, about a Jewish family living in the American suburbs. Seemed a good idea – FoxTrot, which I love and adore and left a minor hole in my heart since it went Sunday-only in the beginning of the year, has a similar premise. Before I got the book, I tried to read some stuff on the web, and a bit of the book. There was a sense of promise… which was unfulfilled.

By the end of the book, I didn’t know much or cared for the family of four – the mother was irritating, manipulative and uninteresting; the father had some good moments but not enough; the son liked videogames and didn’t like religious school; the daughter remained a mystery. There were some moments where I smiled, especially in the Sunday strips, often with the supporting characters, but they weren’t memorable – I still remember the Danae strips in 2005 that made me into a Non Sequitur fan. I finished the book thinking I could have employed my time much better rereading something else.

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