By: Natasha Allegri and Garrett Jackson (Writers) Natasha Allegri/Madéleine Flores (Artist/Backup Artist), Natasha Allegri and Patrick Seery (Color Artists)
Don’t let Dalí-style lucid dreaming get in the way of your temp work, which itself is basically Dalí-style lucid dreaming.
There’s quite a story behind Bee and Puppycat. The property, I mean. The story of the characters is, in fact, pretty simple– Bee is an Every-girl who one day gets a magical pet for no reason, and the pet, Puppycat, takes her on magical, dream-like adventures that are in fact part of some cosmic temp agency.
Their creator, Natasha Allegri, is one of the team of artists/animators behind Frederator/Cartoon Hangover, the same team that brings you Adventure Time and Bravest Warriors. (Allegri is credited for creating the fan-favorite gender-swapped Fionna and Cake for Adventure Time.) Bee and Puppycat were brought to life via Cartoon Hangover’s YouTube channel, and then to Kickstarter, and its campaign ended up being “the most successful animation Kickstarter in history, the #4 film/video Kickstarter (only behind three Hollywood based projects), and the #1 Kickstarter based on a YouTube video” (thanks, Wikipedia!).
So, as their publicity stated, “Of course we’re doing the comic!”
But how does it hold up?
Like the video, the comicbook reads like an extended dream sequence, even when the characters are awake. It’s all very surreal and non-sequitur, which is either quite funny or quite confusing, or both, depending on your perspective. I for one enjoy the trippiness of it all, which extends even into individual panels. For example, Bee has a portrait of an eggplant in her living room for some reason, and a giant purple crystal that looks like it’s supposed to be the antenna for the TV.
The actual dream sequence in the beginning borders on surreal and disturbing, and the humor in the second half comes from Bee being on the border of embarrassed and helpless. Part of the surreality of the dream is that it appears to have no context at all– there is no impact to the regular narrative because of the dream, unless you want to make some stretches and connect the keys in the dream to Bee being locked out of her house… or, something?
This leads into a big weakness in the issue– there is very little information given to the reader about Bee and Puppycat’s world. There are a couple of phrases that clue you in to the set up, but if you didn’t know that Puppycat receives its temp agency assignments through letters that appear out of a beam from its forehead, then page 14 will simply be incomprehensible, as it shows only the beam, and not the letter nor the forehead, and despite comics being a sequential art, there is no attempt to sequentialize these moments on the paper– you’ll have to remember from the video. Likewise the giant TV screen-slash-case worker and how it uses its mouth to send them to assignments… like Wallace… OK, yeah, surreal. Like I said.
And besides the lack of sequential paneling, there are other concerns about the layouts, not the least of which is that there are only, on average, four panels per page. This spreads the story extremely thin, and makes for a dissatisfying read in terms of plot.
Yes, the characters are depicted nicely, and there are some graphical shorthands to emphasize mood and expression, but with a very thin plot, it’s very hard to connect with these characters in any meaningful way. They become just a generic “Girl, but now With Magic Realism!” cyphers.
The Bottom Line:
If you haven’t seen the Bee and Puppycat short on YouTube, you really should. It’s quite funny, and enjoys a very stream-of-consciousness randomness. That doesn’t translate into a comicbook form, unfortunately, at least not as presented here. Instead, it makes for an average, and very decompressed, comic when all is said and done. Especially for a 3.99 price tag. If you want this, you should probably wait for the trade. This is assuming, of course, that you’re in the right target audience in the first place.
The Grade: C+
by Danny Wall
One More Tidbit:
— Bee’s narration boxes are written in cursive. When’s the last time you saw that in a comic? I remember there’s some controversy about continuing to teach cursive in elementary schools. I wonder if that was considered when making this comic?