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James Kochalka has always had a penchant for the outright silly. If nothing else his Johnny Boo series of books have said as much. He’s not afraid to go for the obvious gag, but at the same time his sheer willingness to get ridiculous sort of becomes his strength. I picked up The Glorkian Warrior Delivers a Pizza uncertain if it would be honestly funny or just trying too hard, and you know what? There was more than one time I thought this book was actually, honestly really funny. It’s the kind of funny best appreciated by younger kids too. Your Captain Underpants / Junie B. Jones crowd. Humor is, admittedly, so completely subjective that adults have a hard time remembering what it’s like to be a kid and to find just the most ridiculous thing in a story freakin’ hilarious. But reading about The Glorkian Warrior I couldn’t help but feel like this was one book where Kochalka really put his finger down firmly on the pulse of kid-humor. Nothing against Johnny Boo or any of his other funny books over the years but with The Glorkian Warrior Delivers a Pizza I feel like the man has finally hit his stride. His funniest and most ambitious bit of space-based lunacy to date.
It’s a slow day for The Glorkian Warrior. No amazing adventures on the horizon. Nothing much going on. And though his Super Backpack is bugging him to go out and do something heroic, until the Emergency Space Phone rings our hero is out of ideas. Turns out the phone call is from someone ordering a pepperoni pizza and, not one to back down from a challenge, our Warrior sets off to complete this mission. Granted, the only pizza he has in his possession is the partially eaten peanut butter and clam concoction in his fridge. And granted, nothing seems to go according to plan. But between busting up his Supercar, blowing up a little bully (don’t worry, he’s not hurt), acquiring a baby space cat head sucker thing, and encountering a Magic Robot capable of mucking up time itself, it’s all in a day’s work for The Glorkian Warrior and his newfound pals.
I’m not one of those children’s librarians that claims to have the sense of humor of a 9-year-old kid. There are folks out there that can say this in perfect seriousness and though I do understand where they’re coming from, it’s not really my thing. After all, there are some works of children’s literature that just baffle me with their popularity. That said, I found myself grudgingly really liking what Kochalka was doing here. It’s no mean feat to create an honest-to-goodness quest novel that fills itself from tip to toe full of silliness. The tone in this book is also consistent throughout. It has a clear vision, even if the reader does not, and even manages at the last minute to pull a little surprise coup on the reader. So while it will not be to every adult’s taste, I have absolutely zippo problem with the kiddos picking it up. Heck, I’ll be recommending it to them myself. This is for the kid who wants something along the lines of Adventure Time but without the existential philosophy.
Not that there wasn’t at least one element that struck me as particularly fascinating. Put a little time travel into a book and you’ll find folks like myself examining it from every angle, no matter how silly it is, for inconsistencies. I’ll repeat that. I, a 35-year-old woman, read a children’s graphic novel called The Glorkian Warrior Delivers a Pizza and when I hit on the time travel aspect I looked for mistakes. Just put that in your pipe and smoke it for a while. For me, the only possible problem I could come up with was the fact that if The Glorkian Warrior called himself to order the pizza, why did he call his own number thinking it was a pizza delivery place? So, yeah. Continuity-wise it’s a bit shaky, but honestly if that’s what you take away from the book you’re probably looking at it from the wrong angle anyway. Besides, I love the philosophical quandary of how The Glorkian Warrior learned about the existence of pepperoni pizza from himself rather than some outside source.
You can’t help but love a book where the Don Quixote of space is accompanied by a Sancho Panza-like talking backpack. And yes, it’ll get its own fair share of objections from various quarters. Not every parent will get it, but it’s awfully hard to find anything to object to here. It hasn’t the scatological warning signs of a Captain Underpants or the “bad” language / “bad” attitude of a Junie B. Jones. Instead it’s just a good-natured tale of a dumbo making a date with destiny. It’s not going to blow you away with its insights into the nature of humanity itself, nor would it want to. It’s just here to make kids laugh. And honestly, we could do with a couple more books along those lines these days.
On shelves now.
Source: Galley sent from publisher for review.
Like This? Then Try:
Meanwhile by Jason Shiga – Not to give anything away, but Shiga does some pretty similar things with time travel in his book with similarly goofy results. The tone of the two books is also quite similar.
Fangbone! Third Grade Barbarian by Michael Rex – I’m sort of seeking out the silliest/goofiest of graphic novels, all operating under their own internal logic, to pair with Kochalka’s latest. Fangbone is a much smarter character, but that doesn’t prevent him from running headlong into danger ala our pizza delivery boy here.
Tomorrow is the day human history changes direction and sets sail for the future, as SUPERF***CKERS, the cartoon based on the James Kochalka superhero epic, debuts on the Cartoon Hangover video channel.
Cartoon Hangover already debuted THE BRAVEST WARRIOR, and SUPERF***CKERS will appear every Friday until February.
In case you missed the comic, the SuperFs—and their leader, Jack Crack—are the randiest, raunchiest, rowdiest, revoltingest teen superhero team ever. In the above EXCLUSIVE AND UNCENSORED clip you begin to see why. Here’s the official trailer with requisite puking jokes:
Okay we’re not going to spend weeks and weeks rounding up San Diego memories, but we are going to share a few good ones. James Kochalka has started his sketchbook diaries account, and this is the comics equivalent of the MODERN FAMILY recap.
Over at the Cartoon Hangover blog, this image of James Kochalka’s Superf***ckers has appeared with the headline “Too Wild For T.V.” If you’ve read the debauched adventures of Kochalka’s NSFW teen superheroes—imagine Beavis and Butthead without the intelligence and restraint—you know that any such cartoon WOULD be too wild for T.V. Frederator Studios, which runs the blog and produced such cartoon classics as Adventure Time and The Fairly Odd Parents has had Superf***ers in development for a while now—and now it’s going to be seen as part of the massive new influx of programming on YouTube. Kochalka has already written 8 of the 12 episodes.
Superf***ers the comic s published by Top Shelf. Kchalka produced four “issues” in the square picture book format which was then collected into a trade.
Two thoughts: #1 as streaming TV become the norm, having a series on YouTube isn’t going to mean anything much different than appearing on TV
#2 this IS going to be wild. Here’s a theme song Kochalka already wrote:
Move over Casper! There's a new ghost in town and his name is Johnny Boo. The "best little ghost in the whole world" is featured in four graphic early readers by James Kochalka. The latest in the series is Johnny Boo and the Mean Little Boy.
In this book about friendship, Johnny has a play date with his new friend Rocky the Rock, excluding his old pal Squiggle, a comma-shaped ghost. So Squiggle squiggles off to find a friend of his own, landing in a butterfly net wielded by Mean Little Boy. The little ghost believes he's found a new friend, even after the boy plops Squiggle in a jar. Luckily Johnny shows up, and the two ghosts figure out Mean Little Boy's true colors.
Perfect for the kindergarten-through-third-grade crowd, this book will leave young readers laughing, especially at the potty humor. (Mean Little Boy has an unfortunate accident.) They will also take away an important message about what it means to be a friend. Kochalka's action-packed illustrations are zany and fun, while the speech balloons are large enough to assist beginning readers.
Johnny Boo: The Mean Little Boy by James Kochalka Top Shelf Productions, 40 pages Published: April 2010
By Jen Vaughn What do you do with a man with a wild mind of his own and a pair of drawing hands that just won’t quit?
You make him KING.
James Kochalka is the one of forerunners of autobiographical diary comics with his syndicated comic, American Elf
, which is also available online and began way back in October, 1998. He is also the creator of other excellent comics like irreverent SuperF*ckers and children’s books like the Johnny Boo series and most recently, Dragon Puncher. His comics are published by Portland-based comics publisher, Top Shelf. Brett Warnock of Top Shelf had this to say about his new Laureate: “James Kochalka mines the depths of the comics medium in ways that most aspiring cartoonists can only hope to achieve. Simply put, he “gets” comics… the narrative flow, panel and page compositions, line quality and color palette. Of course, all would be for naught without his charming, funny, and engaging content. And he makes it all seem so damn effortless. The world is a much better place for Kochalka’s impressive body of work.”
All over the state of Vermont, Kochalka has spread his love of comics and drawing. He is a regular visiting artist/faculty member at the Center for Cartoon Studies
, a renowned cartooning school also based in Vermont. The Center for Cartoon Studies appointed Kochalka after a selection process. CCS Director James Sturm believes, “Whether they are funny, philosophical, or naughty, James Kochalka brings a childlike intensity to all of his work. With his diary comic he has influenced countless cartoonists and has forever altered the landscape of cartooning.”
Kochalka is also known for giving back to his own Vermont town, Burlington. Once a year, Kochalka and a rag-tag group of fledgling cartoonists (usually from CCS) take over the 4th and 5th grade classes to teach youngsters the joy of comics, sequential art and panel play.
When not inspiring the minds of children and cartoonists world-wide, Kochalka occasionally sings in his band, James Kochalka Superstar or creates 8-bit digi-tunes (my favorite track from Digital Elf was The Golden Eagle). The coronation of James Kochalka , the first EVER Cartoonist Laureate, will take place all over Vermont in a day long-celebratio
of James Kochalka being appointed “country’s first ever” Cartoonist Laureate in Vermont, it appears that one other state has previously named a cartoonist laureate, Chad Carpenter. And what state would that be? Alaska. That’s right, the 50th state in terms of population density per square mile named a Cartoonist Laureate before states like Oregon, Washington, California, New York and the ever-burgeoning Vermont. These states are pregnant with cartoonists, illustrators, animators and graphic novelists. When asked about the erroneous credit The Center For Cartoon Studies co-founder, James Sturm, stated, “I should have known. Alaska is the only state in the country that has a longer cartooning season than Vermont.” For those down south, cartooning season lasts as long as there is snow on the ground and whiskey in your mug.
So, calling all states (aside from Vermont and Alaska) to step up to the plate. Creators and publishers, rustle up some enthusiasm not just for books sales but the love of the medium! Fans, get into it! Create a committee (possibly with the backing of a trusted cartooning institution in your state) and don’t just wait for a bill to pass through your local government. Select a cartoonist who not only creates influential or a large volume work but gives back to the community. Then publicly celebrate that cartoonist to the best of your abilities.
once you have a cartoonist in your state selected as Cartoonist Laureate (or if you need help choosing one) and definitely send the details of the celebration so that all may revel in our shared love of comics. And remember, you’ll have a lot of cartoonists worthy of the title but you can always name another laureate.