Pop Culture Gadabout
Saturday, August 20, 2011
      ( 8/20/2011 01:21:00 PM ) Bill S.  


“YES, I SEE THAT CLOUD OF BLACK SMOKE.” The shiny die-cut cover to Kinky & Cosy (NBM) provides a strong indication of where this collection of comic strips is coming from: featuring google-eyed headshots of the book’s eight-year-old title twins, the collection opens to the image of two grinning death’s head skulls. A series of gag comics by Belgian cartoonist Nix, the strip is being compared by its publisher to the “Katzenjammer Kids on speed,” which is fair enough, particularly in a strip which ends on the image of our trickster girls rolling on the ground. I also detect elements of the manga/anime series Shin Chan, particularly in the strip's (mis)treatment of our heroines’ parents.

Like South Park (which is name-checked in one of the strips), much of the humor in Kinky & Cosy stems from putting foul-minded thoughts and deeds in the heads of eight-year-old kidlets. (In one memorable strip, for instance, Kinky responds to a teacher’s request for a debate-worthy declaration with a statement about fisting; in another a young boy neo-Nazi engages in Holocaust denial.) One of the series’ secondary plotlines revolves on the girls’ mother and her unsuccessful attempts to relieve her sexual frustration. In an extended comic story, Mom has an unrequited love affair with an illegal alien living in a recycling bin; earlier, we see her calling customer support on a malfunctioning vibrator.

The two prime male adult figures, beer-swilling Dad and an ineptly authoritarian teacher named Mr. Deeds, prove equally feckless when it comes to taming our little girl hellions, who think nothing of setting a skyscraper aflame to divert parental attention from failed test scores. When the strip imagines our twosome grown into adulthood, it’s as a pair of gun-toting reservoir dogs. “We had an unhappy childhood,” they explain over the body of a bloody victim. “They made us play with educational toys.” As good an explanation of modern generational malaise as any I’ve read.

In addition to the regular strips -- and a two-page photo feature wherein cartoonist Nix and an unidentified friend get remade as our heroines -- the first collection features fifteen pages of comic visual brain teasers (e.g., a maze in which a hung over Mr. Deeds strives to make his way to school). Though the book includes an answer key, it omits the solution to two of its puzzles. Could be an editorial flub, but I like to think it was more deliberate, the provocative Nix telling his readership, “You’re on your own, gang.”

(First published on Blogcritics.)

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Pop cultural criticism - plus the occasional egocentric socio/political commentary by Bill Sherman (popculturegadabout AT yahoo.com).



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