COMIC REVIEW: The Incredibly Stupid Misadventures of Fred Fortune and His Chums

Who is Fred Fortune? Good question.

Post punk irreverent ant-hero might be one answer. The best way to find out, however, is to read this collection of short comic stories by Jonathan Odds and published by Abbot Comics. Going under the banner of The Incredibly Stupid Misadventures of Fred Fortune and his chums, this comic collects 3 short stories and a number of short skits.

 

 It’s a science fiction comedy with lots of beer, flying car chases, aliens, robots, laughs and biting satire in the harsh environment of a gigantic post industrial city.

We’re introduced to Fred in the 2008 story “Waste Not, Want Not”. It is the far future. It has the look and the feel of Luc Besson’s The Fifth Element mixed with 2000AD sensibilities in terms of design, although the level of writing and humour appear to be more like Viz with the single entendres and the heavy-handed political satire. That’s not to say that the tales don’t have a certain charm, the same way that the Sex Pistols had back in the day. In this tale, Fred is basically flying about in his car while a voice over introduces us to the world. There seems little point or payoff.

The art is all black and white with that charming punkish attitude, and throughout the edition there are nods and digs abound. A single panelled page features Spider-Man, as an example. I quite like Odds’s artwork. It is loose, full of character and is incredibly detailed. He has a clear vision in his storytelling but the strength is in the visuals, rather than the words.

The single page story “Blah” seems like a pointless diversion and while it was drawn in 2001, in this context, feels like a space filler. It certainly fails to give any extra insight into the character and fails on the humour level to. Meanwhile, another single page story called “Technology” (also 2001) is much closer to the insightful humour target. It tells you a little about just the kind of person Fred is…much happier with a pint than anything else.

The best of the tales is “Invasion Force”. Written in 2007, it is the clearest vision of who Fred is, a gung-ho reluctant hero who shoots first and then second and doesn’t ask any questions. The police bureaucracy is a nice touch. The final story, “Joe Sin: Rubbish,” in the words of Odds, “introduces one of the bad guys with a story arc that will run over several issues.”

This book also contains a nicely detailed insight into the evolution of Fred as both a drawn and written character with Odds’s inspirations taken from Star Wars, amongst other things.

If you enjoy black and white, irreverent future space punk with a touch of the teenage potty mouth, this comic is for you. This is a fairly enjoyable introduction to the Fortune universe for the uninitiated, so if you missed it when it was in the long running UK small press zine Mondo from 1993 until 2004.

Personally, I’d like to see Odds drawing for someone who has a better grasp of story-telling, because the art is terrific and the characters are fun. Maybe the stories will develop and improve, because they are not quite there yet. In the meantime, this is a classic case of the total is better than the sum of the parts.

From Abbot Comics.

 

Rating: 3/5
Reviewer: Ian J Simpson

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