Wallace and Gromit: The Complete Newspaper Comic Strip Collection
By Andy Mansell | Contributor Published: 01/10/2014 10:00 am EST
Publish date: October 8, 2013 Publisher: Titan Books
Our friends at Titan Books continue to prove that they are every bit the major newspaper strip publishers that the American stalwarts IDW and Fantagraphics are. Currently, Titan is producing collected volumes of James Bond, Modesty Blaise, Hagar the Horrible, The Wizard of Id, Beetle Bailey, and now, direct from the pages of The Sun (of London) comes a full year of daily strips featuring Nick Park’s delightful Claymation characters Wallace and Gromit.
The strips are of the gag-a-day variety, but these pun filled strips make up a six day mini-story. A few of the storylines are okay, some are good, and many are inspired. But the best part about the strip—and this is crucial for the success of any daily—the jokes, puns, and repetition build until an overly obvious joke becomes a clever little motif. The more insane the plan to mechanize the mundane and the everyday—say, an automatic clock cleaner—the funnier the whole thing gets. In your face ACME Industries!!! The repetition builds on itself and as the insane becomes the ordinary, and in the hands of the writers and artists of the strip, it never becomes mundane. The funniest bit—besides the inventions—is Wallace the inventor’s mania for cheese.
Now for a word about Wallace’s faithful canine companion Gromit: There are a lot of really smart dogs out there—Eddie from Frasier and that silent dog from The Artist immediately come to mind—but I have to place Gromit highest of all, far above Snoopy and Marmaduke in the pantheon of prescient pooches. Because unlike everyone’s favorite daydreaming beagle, Gromit is focused and dedicated to his round-headed (okay, it’s shaped more like a squash) owner.
In addition to being a great foil to Wallace’s madcap inventor role, Gromit’s face—eyes, ears, and eyebrows—acts as the Greek chorus and double-take artist, a perfect partner for the ever stoic tooth-filled grin of Mr. Wallace.
But, if the bright colors will draw more readers—especially young ones—to Wallace and Gromit (the same way we older readers are drawn to the Page Six gal!) then by all means color away—but real devotees of comic art might miss something in the presentation.
This is not a classic strip—to be fair, it has only been out for a year or two—but it is certainly entertaining and if I lived in England, I’d figure out a way to read it as often as possible. If you or your kids loved the movie Curse of the Were-Rabbit or streaming episodes of Shawn the Sheep, this dandy little book is just for you.
Andy Mansell lived in Chicago for over 40 years until his doctors advised him that he would die soon unless he got as far away from the land of Italian combo sandwiches and soft serve frozen custard. He is currently growing rather old rather quickly in Charlotte, NC as a member of the Waistline Protection Program. He lives for four things: his family, baseball, opera, and of course great comics. He is also looking for a ride back to Chi-town for just one more breaded steak sammich. He will provide gas, guaranteed. Contact him at this address.