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Friday, January 16, 2015

This graphic novel is fun and funny (but kind of dumb)

Kolchalka, James (2014) The Glorkian Warrior Delivers a Pizza.  New York:  First Second

There are two kinds of Saturday morning cartoons.  There are some, like Bugs Bunny or Thundaar the Barbarian, or even Sponge Bob Square Pants that are funny, but also make you think, and maybe even give you some cultural knowledge along the way.  There are other cartoons (and I can't think of an example title for you because this type of cartoon tends to be utterly forgettable) that are high energy, frantic, filled with pratfalls and fart jokes, and give you nothing to keep your brain alive.  Much of the humor in such shows derives from how stupid the main characters and the villains, and pretty much everybody in the cartoon are.  Those are the kind I can't stand to watch. 

James Kochalka (whose earlier works were mostly introspective, funny, idiosyncratic one-panel comics) has written a contribution that I would have to classify as mostly belonging to theat second category of comics.  The plot, in a nutshell, is this:  The Glorkian Warrior and his faithful sentient backpack gets what seems to be a wrong number phone call on the emergency space phone.  The caller orders a pizza.  The Glorkian Warrior decides to deliver the pizza.  After several misadventures with robots and pizzas, they return home, giving up on the adventure and instead decide to order a pizza.  Then they realize that they had been reading the address wrong and actually they had somehow called themselves in  the past to deliver a pizza to the present, which they then eat.  Sound kind of thin for 110 pages of material?  Well, all this takes a lot longer because the Glorkian Warrior struggles with basic comprehension and cognition.  Consider this conversation between the Glorkian Warrior and his backpack:

Glorkian Warrior:  Hey, what's that sound?  Are my feet ringing?
Backpack:  No boss, that's not your feet.  That's the emergency space phone.
GW:  Oh good.  As long as it is nothing important.  Wait a minute -- Emergency?!  Are my feet on fire?!  Help!  Help!
B:  No, Boss!  It's the phone. 
GW:  The phone is on fire?!  Oh no!  If the phone is on fire, how will we call for help?!  Aaaah!
B:  The phone's not on fire, Boss.  It's just ringing!
GW:  Ringing?!  Aaah!  What do we do!?

It goes on like that for a while.  To most adults, this sort of dialogue is mind-numbingly insipid.  However, I suspect that for certain 3rd grade through 6th graders this sort of silliness is hilarious. The drawing is simplistic and cartoony (see the illustration on the cover above).  It kind of matches the writing.

So this is not the book that is gong to help students understand anything.  It will also not inspire them to do anything.  In fact, its only redeeming quality is probably that some students will laugh their heads off and enjoy every minute of reading this. And that may be a very admirable thing. 

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