New from BOOM! Studios is Regular Show Vol. 1, collecting the first four issues of the comic series based on the animated Cartoon Network hit of the same name. Unlike your average comic book collection, most of what’s included in this volume is written and drawn by a different creative team. As well as the two main tales by KC Green and Allison Strejlau, there’s a set of short stories, which are:
Thrill Baby, written and Illustrated by Brian Butler.
Wide Awake, written by Shaun Steven Stubleand and drawn by Sina Grace.
Sugartown, written by Rachel Connor and illustrated by Josceline Fenton.
and Freegans, written by Brandon T. Snider and illustrated by Wook Jin Clark.
I’ve always been a big fan of Regular Show since it began airing on Cartoon Network here in the UK, so I was really looking forward to picking this up. After trying out the series in issues earlier in the year, I found I enjoyed them but they were such a quick read that waiting for the volume seemed like it’d be the better call. It turns out the two-parter stories do read much better but having them collected brings some new hiccups, as I’ll explain in a moment.
The first story by Green and Strejla is the most true-to-form of the stories. The first issue is so close to the show that I found myself reading it all in their television voices. It really does feel like watching an episode of Regular Show on television, just played out in panels. The second storyline has that slightly sinister, weird atmosphere that Regular Show often delves into. The guest characters are very unique looking and memorable, but it does get surprisingly dark in parts. I’d hesitate to pass this onto a child, which is an unusual realisation considering that they’re surely the primary target audience. For instance, a lot of blacks and dark colours dominate the page which makes it look a lot scarier than your average Regular Show episode.
The short stories afterwards are unfortunately quite unbalanced and don’t mesh very well with the first two extended tales. While the earlier two actually feel like watching the TV show, the short stories are more of a mish-mash of inconsistent art and plot, none of which seem to actually fully fit the characters. The artwork ranges from cute and cartoony to a more twisted, dark look. This wouldn’t be bad on its own but its jarring when the styles change so rapidly. It’s quite interesting to read, but it doesn’t feel like the characters I’ve grown to love. The way in which some of the characters are written it feels as though the writers don’t have a firm grasp on them, as if they perhaps haven’t seen enough of it to understand the characters or that they decided to put a little bit too much of their own take on them. That being said, the short story Wide Awake, written by Stubleand, actually feels like it could be an episode, with Mordecai and Rigby’s familiar obsession with coffee and video games being brought into the mix. So although the short stories are an uneven bag there are flashes of fun in there.
All in all, a lot of the comic feels as though it has a more Ren & Stimpy style tone, with slightly darker humour than you’d expect for kids. Although it’s still fun it’s distracting as it just doesn’t feel like it’s perfectly in sync with the show. I feel like were they episodes then they’d standout from the rest as being a bit too overboard. By taking the bright, cheerful colours away in some stories, it’s taken away the child-friendly feel, perhaps the comic is being aimed at an older teenaged audience but altogether it’s just a bit strange to read if you’re taking this as a direct companion to the show. However all that said, it’s good on its own and as mentioned the first two stories are great. Altogether it’s an entertaining, but slightly muddled, collection of stories.