Molasses (Vol. 1)
Staff: Jason Payne, Milton Knight, Robert Wertz, Elana Pritchard, Jared Axelrod
Good art. Not a funny comic.
So today we are looking at “Molasses”, a comic billed as “The world’s finest funny animal anthology Vol. 1”, by Syrup Pirates. I normally do just 1st issues, which means 1 story, but since this is an anthology and kind of short I will be doing quick reviews of each of the 5 shorts and then giving my overall feelings on the book at the end. Humor comics are not typically my cup of tea, but they contacted me ahead of time and asked and I told them I’d give it the old college try.
The book opens with “Blackbird Pie” by Milton Knight. It’s a wordless 6 panel short based around the children’s rhyme “Sing a Song of Sixpence” where blackbirds are baked in a pie. It makes excellent use of negative space and has some very well-drawn Tex Avery style artwork. An issue off the bat that grabbed me first was it’s font choices. The title was terribly hard to read (I misread it as “Black bind Pie”). This kind of continues on in later panels (I still am not entirely sure what one of the signs says). Overall however, this is a perfectly serviceable comic but it didn’t really make me laugh.
The second is “Oberon in The Fly. A Kitty’s Cats Cartoon” by Robert Wertz. It’s a wordless 3 page comic about an anthropomorphic cat who chases an annoying fly around his garage. The art style kind of bothers me a little. I’m not sure if I can really put my finger on it but it seems really stiff and like maybe he used some digital program to allow him to reproduce the face. Maybe it’s a stroke width thing on his cheeks, I dunno. Otherwise it’s perfectly fine. I mean if you’ve seen one Tom and Jerry cartoon, it’s nothing new and again I didn’t really laugh. It kind of ends on a non-ending and I felt like maybe I was cheated out of a punchline.
Third we have 2 small, wordless, 3 panel comics called “Don’t Let This Happen To You” by Elana Pritchard. Honestly, I am distracted by the horrible layout. Otherwise it’s pretty decent. Elana is far from the strongest artistic on this comic but it’s not bad. There is some weird error where her signature looks a little glitchy. Again, no laughs were to be had.
The fourth comic is “Give & Cake” by Jared Axelrod. It is a 2 page comic with dialogue featuring a fox and a racoon attempting to bake a cake. This one actually has some decent banter and the handdrawn art style is rather nice if not a little difficult to decipher at times. It feels like it is building up to something funny- but the ending, while cute, falls flat. This might have been a decent story for an anthology book featuring the relationship between these two characters but doesn’t really work as a humor story (though the banter is at least clever).
The fifth and final story is “Tiny Todd: Caught on a Hookie” by Jason Payne. It has a very odd artstyle- kind of reminds me of the works of John Kricfalusi (Ren & Stimpy, Ripping Friends, etc), some early Matt Groening stuff, or even some Mad Magazine shorts. We have a kid trying to skip school and go to the fair but his dad follows him. While there are some good expressions and reaction shots- I don’t know if this is really a funny comic.
This is the kind of comic I wished I liked more. It has so much passion and enthusiasm behind it that I want it to succeed despite the score I give this. This comic ultimately fails because, whatever else I have to say about it, it’s a humor comic that isn’t funny. I didn’t laugh, I didn’t crack a smile, I didn’t give a warm “hmm”. Maybe I’m not the right audience but it has a very simplistic approach to humor I’m not sure would do much for even a younger audience. Everything was fairly predictable and, though comics are a visual medium, the vaudevillian approach to humor ultimately falls flat because of a lack of visual motion and response. I feel like there is something I’m missing- but I don’t think there is. It goes for a very old-timey approach but I’m not really confident that works in a modern context. There are also some minor grammar mistakes (a few missing commas, a few odd capitalizations, and “Pritchard” is misprinted on the credits page as “Prtichard”). In its favor I’ll say that there are some really well-drawn parts of this comic. Of particular note is the work by Milton Knight and Jason Payne who have very different styles but are both very expressive in their artwork. I’ll end this with a kind of note reminding you that this isn’t a genre I normally enjoy and if this is your cup of tea- you’ll probably enjoy it.