Jetcat Clubhouse TPB – Jay Stephens

3 out of 5

This is an appreciably put together collection of not only Jay Stephens’ Jetcat Clubhouse 3-issue series, but also some stray odds and ends from other magazines – Nickelodeon magazine, for example – all vibing with the very kid-friendly tone of the series.  The bits and 2-parters from the mini have been rearranged and tightened up to read as one, semi-fluid, very-Jay story – Jay’s series tend to loop in and out of different, unrelated characters, only to drop sudden nods to those others stories and tie them together – and the ‘Clubhouse’ already had a lot of interesting excess in it in the form of comic strip versions of the Jetcat animated shorts that appeared on KaBlam! (and that it’s interesting to hear had their share of editorial fussing done to them – showing that’s not just something that happens with films).  Besides Jetty, we get Oddette, and Space Ape, and some Bug Squad-adjacent appearances, and Bela Kiss, and Tutenstein, but whereas Stephens’ Land of Nod strips had this rather unpredictable loopy tone to them, ‘Clubhouse’ feels pretty streamlined, with its randomness – while still wildly weird – feeling more forced, as Jay pushes himself more clearly toward kid territory.  There are poop jokes, Michael Jackson impersonations, and other more “recognizable” version of jokes that push Jay’s odder-humored stuff into the borders.  The creator’s sense of pacing and craft remains, and it is telling that the tone is so consistent despite this essentially being a compilation – meaning that, yes, this is purposefully tuned to an age range – but the book definitely lacks the instant rereadability of the Nod stuff, and yet isn’t quite overboard enough in the kid appealing hijinx to necessarily make it a successful offering to a youngster.