3 out of 5
Doug TenNapel’s first comic book – or part of it, anyway, as the original was apparently split with another cartoonist at the time, but Mr. TenNapel has printed his side of it and offered it as an extra with some of his recent Kickstarted books.
The “first” nature of it surely shows. While Doug’s expressive style is absolutely clear, here, it’s also a young talent giving an early go at framing, and finding a defined look for his humans and creatures, and even the tone struggles between being goofy funny and “edgy” funny; we should be glad that Doug went down a path of being goofy. But despite the horrific puns (that maybe don’t even qualify as puns?) and occasionally unclear artistry, the creativity is there – the way the story stretches and squishes into unexpected directions, even with short length. While you might note the rough quality of the storytelling and whatnot if you picked this up at an indie comic show or something, I sincerely think there’s enough oddity there – a splash of the “unseen” – that would make TenNapel’s name stick in memory, such that when you later see it pop up on a videogame like Earthworm Jim, you’d take extra notice.
And, obviously, this is notable for “introducing” Evil the Cat, who’s just a regular ol’ (evil) cat here, sent to obedience school and, natch, taking it over. The represented version of this has a foreword by Doug, offering some context, and fantastic front and back covers – the front I think is the original cover, but given that the back features Jim, I’ll assume that’s new.