Monday, January 4, 2016

Review - Clarence: Rest Stops #1 (@boomstudios)


"Hey we can play a fun car game guys!!"

Road trips are fun. You end up at fascinating destinations, you're in a car with people you like (generally) and the trip itself is part of the experience. That experience is exemplified in Clarence: Rest Stops #1 from kaboom! Studios. "Road Trip" is written and illustrated by Patrick Crotty, "True Beauty" is written and illustrated by Scott Maynard and lettered by Warren Montgomery, "The Essentials" is written and illustrated by Mad Rupert and colored by Joe Brown, "Trash and Treasure" is written by Kevin Panetta, illustrated by Tait Howard and lettered by Montgomery, "Road Life" is written by Nick Cron-Devico and illustrated by Andreas Shuster and "A Monumental Road Trip" is written by Derek Fridolfs and illustrated by Meg Omac.

It’s a collection of shorts based on the Cartoon Network animated series that takes place during family road trips when Clarence and his pals make it out of the car to stretch their legs.

The common thread tying all the stories together is road trip and each story offers a various aspect of road trips. "Road Trip" looks at the prospect of a road trip full of excited kids and Crotty doesn't shy away from the madness those kids bring with them. "True Beauty" is a bit more profound, as Maynard relies on the idea that things always seem cooler to us in our minds than they are in reality when we revisit them. "The Essentials" seems superfluous, but Rupert adds a touch of emotion to it that makes it a lot deeper. "Trash and Treasures" gives Panetta the chance to make explorers out of kids and the junk they find around them. "Road Life" takes a look at the indecision that comes with a spur of the moment road trip and Cron-Devico has plenty of fun with it. And "A Monumental Road Trip" is one of the more emotional stories, as Fridolfe uses it to show that it's not always the destination that matters.

Despite the various artists, the book largely draws on a cartoony style that's in line with the cartoon itself. Crotty's illustrations in "Road Trip" have an "Adventure Time" vibe to them, with character expressions familiar to those fans of the Land of Ooo. "True Beauty" looks like Maynard took a page out of Matt Groenig's book, with all the characters looking like they could easily fit in at Springfield. "The Essentials" feels cluttered chaotic, as Rupert uses the style to reflect a convenience store at a gas station. "Trash and Treasure" features characters defined by bold outlines and Howard uses them to give the trash at the dump that much more weight. In "Road Life," Shuster uses facial expressions heavily to carry the emotion of the characters, which ranges from excitement to anger over not choosing their destination. Finally, "A Monumental Road Trip" is very bright for most of the story, with Omac mixing in darker spots for contrast and effect.

On its surface, Clarence: Rest Stops #1 feels pretty random and rambunctious. There's definitely more of an appeal to fans of the series, but new readers can quickly pick up on the zany world Clarence and his friends inhabit. Each of the authors offers a road trip story that focuses on a different aspect of road trips in general. The artwork effectively keeps up with the madcap madness as well, with every story unique enough in its appearance that it feels different from the others. Clarence: Rest Stops #1 is a pretty lighthearted and airy book that's gets pretty deep at times.

Clarence: Rest Stops #1 is in stores now.







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