5 out of 5
Aright, I’ve been critical of these BOOM / IDW cartoon ventures, feeling like most of them either devolve into repetition (a consequence of Ryan North’s writing style on ‘Adventure Time’) or somewhat lazy pandering, but ‘Gumball’ really knocks it out of the park. A huge – huge – part of this goes to both writer Frank Gibson and artist / colorist Tyson Hesse / Paulina Ganucheau for actually layering their own unique styles on top of the show’s base, but I do think the base – and let’s give creator Ben Bocquelet credit for that – is what allows our comic team to make it work, as Gumball’s half-plotted half-insane setup is a perfect framework for allowing someone to step in and have some established world rules but then go crazy as they deem fit, all while staying well within the ‘flavor’ of the show.
And so you have four one-offs that would function perfectly well as actual Gumball episodes, but take advantage of the comic format’s pacing and framing to make it a unique experience. Hesse’s adaptation of the different animation styles somehow works perfectly, gleefully bopping between comic book paneling and frames that are perfectly reminiscent of the show; Ganucheau uses just the right touch of computer blending /shadows (versus the show’s more often flat coloring) to enrich the pages. Most pleasingly, Gumball and Darwin get a full range of facial expressions that, again, take notes from the show’s anything-goes format but work with the limitations / possibilities of the printed page to deliver shots that work better here than they would on screen. Gibson’s scripts match the general scheme-go-wrong send-up, but most importantly – made me laugh. Out. Freaking. Loud. Anais’ closing comments at the end of issue 4 are ridiculously awesome, and give me such hope for the style of this book.
The un-related Steven Universe backups in issue 1 and 2 were sort of unnecessary advertising padding, but the fake ads by Yehudi Mercado are a win and issues 3 and stick to all Gumball material, so hopefully that will continue.