Jamie Smart is a brilliantly bonkers man. I am allowed to say this, I think, because I have spoken to him at least twice so that means we’re bestest friends, and also because it’s meant as a compliment. With his unique sense of humour and ultra-cute-but-slightly-weird-too art style, he’s created some of my favourite comics, from the very not-all-ages stories like Ubu Bubu and webcomic Corporate Skull, to the all-ages Where’s Chaffy and Space Raoul adventures. There’s more, but frankly I think I’m massaging his ego quite enough, so let’s move on. I’ve been following his comics around like a bad smell since I discovered his bananas-ness a few years ago, and was amazed to hear last year that he was cultivating a Big All-Ages Project in the form of Moose Kid Comics. Issue One, which fell into my eyeballs in June-ish last year, was a risk, but ultimately one very worth taking. With the help of a huge bunch of other writers and artists, Smart put together a FREE book that was funny, clever, a bit insane, mostly cute and basically a fantastic read. The website states that the vision behind the creation of Moose Kid Comics was “to remind both children and adults alike how fantastical and imaginative comics can be, and to help bring children’s comics back into the public consciousness” and I think it did just that. Brimming with zany, fun and the sometimes ludicrous, Moose Kid Comics provided children (and adults too!) with a plethora of strips and characters to love. It left me wanting more of the same and hoping that Smart was glutton-for-punishment-y enough to take on the mammoth task that would be creating Issue Two. This past week, Smart not only proved that he is indeed somewhat nuts, but also that the first issue wasn’t some sort of massive fluke, by dropping (the also FREE) Moose Kid Comics: The Great Big Number Two (titter) into our eager eye-holes.
This 35 page all-ages epic does not disappoint in delivering another batch of brilliance with returning favourites from Issue One as well as shiny new strips to feast your eyes on. I was very happy to see some of my personal favourites return, such as Jess Bradley’s ‘Cecil P. Wombat’, who is just perfect. I’m a fan of Jess Bradley’s work anyway (though her Cthulhu activity books’ wordsearch is driving me round the bend, which I suspect may be somewhat intentional), as she has a fantastic sense of humour and a super-cute style that combine to make some truly hilarious comic strips. Cecil is a self-proclaimed expert on everything (though I imagine his actual knowledge of the world to be more like ‘approximate about some things’) and is so utterly delightful that I could probably read an entire comic just about his crazy exploits. That’s not to say that the other strips here in Moose Kid Comics don’t live up to the incredibly high bar set by Jess early on; in fact, they do a very stand up job of hitting that bar consistently. Tom Plant’s ‘Gurber’ is an absolute treasure, Dan Gaynor’s ‘Crunchwood’ is a perfectly paced joke set in an adorable world that I would happily spend lots more time in, and Rick Eades’ ‘Sir Loynstake’ is a wonderful slice of big-chinned egotism that made me snort Dr Pepper Zero down my nose (a thing I would rather never do again, thank you very much). There are a ton of other strips that had me giggling at my computer screen like a ninny (Big Things Hiding Behind Small Things, Lonely Jonesy and La Mariposa, to name but three) and Smart’s Moose Kid bits and bobs throughout are just divine. Plus, there’s farts. Many, many, well-timed, hilarious farts. I could go on for quite a long time about each and every strip I loved in this issue but a) that would take a very long time and b) I wouldn’t want to spoil the fun for you. Because if there’s one thing at the heart of Moose Kid Comics, it’s fun, and this issue delivers it in spades.
As is the nature of anthologies, there are one or two strips that didn’t really work for me, but hey, we can’t love everything all the time, can we? It’s a testament to Smart’s dedication to providing comics for everyone that there’s such a diverse range of characters, styles and creators in this book, and even if the odd one doesn’t hit the mark, it’s still truly a joy to behold. He’s done a jolly spiffing job; there’s definitely something in here for everyone, and I for one cannot wait for more silly, zany, hilarious fun in Issue 3! Go on my son!
Both issues of Moose Kid Comics can be downloaded or read online over here: moosekidcomics.com I strongly recommend checking them both out.
Title: Moose Kid Comics: The Great Big Number Two
Reviewer: Stacey Taylor (@StacebobT)