Review: Bob’s Burgers Vol. 2 #5

Translating animated series to comic form is a tricky thing, which is paired unfortunately with it being a given thing. Since Kaboom showed that there was a game outside of Bongo for this kind of adaptation, other companies have been following suit with similar titles; I even assumed this title was a Kaboom book simply from its structure. Some series work in the format. Some don't. While I haven't read many issues of this series previously, I'd argue that 'Bob's Burgers' is firmly in the latter. BobsV2-05-Cov-A-WongThere are plenty of reasons why the premise of a 'Bob's Burgers' comic doesn't quite work even before the first writer is hired. While 'Futurama', 'Bravest Warriors', and 'Bee and Puppycat' all have sprawling fantasy universes to explore, 'Bob's Burgers' has a very grounded location, requiring jaunts into character's fantasy lives or genre parodies to give the book flavor. Additionally, while the show is well written and directed, quite a lot of the humor is derived not only from the vocal performances, but from the improvisational riffing of the voice actors themselves. While you can try to imagine Mirman, Schall, and Benjamin's voices while reading, there's a disconnect that doesn't result in the same experience. The same experience isn't required, Bongo's 'The Simpson's' comic series knew how to be a comic book first from its staging and style, but here you have no real attempt to utilize the medium on its own terms, resulting in stories that feel like discarded fragments too slight to be used on the show.

The stories contained within this issue aren't awful, but extremely forgettable. Two of the stories are parodies, one of 'Casablanca' the other '20,000 Leagues Under the Sea', but the only decently creative idea is the third story, which deals with a self-aware joke about the series' opening title sequence featuring novelty exterminator company names. It's a pretty great idea, but unfortunately just makes you wish they'd used that as a B-plot in the TV show, as the story is flat outside of the premise. Two of the stories are even 'To Be Continued', neither of which feel capable of sustaining themselves a month later. Along with some full sized joke pages that feel like page padding, this book feels aimless and dispassionate, a mostly harmless exploitation of a property license and little more. You can't hate it, it's not hurting anything, but it doesn't really make any compelling case for its own existence. The artists attached, while competent, don't really have the range of style that makes Kaboom books at least interesting to look at. That said, the one positive thing to come out of a book this flat is at least some decent cartoonists got a working paycheck out of it.

It doesn't have to exist, but because it's a cartoon thing on television, it has to exist. There's nothing more to be said, I won't be back for another issue, it's just another formless grey corner of my memory now, populated by the offerings of publishers that perform the same kind of function that companies that print paper plates of whatever superhero movie is in theaters for kid's birthday parties. Buy it, don't buy it, they've already printed it; what you hold in your hand is part of a future landfill. Enjoy if you can.

Score: 2/5

Bob’s Burgers Vol. 2 #5 Writers: Various Artists: Various Publisher: Dynamite Entertainment Price: $3.99 Release Date: 11/4/15 Format: Mini-Series; Print/Digital