Review: Regular Show #23

I have a confession to make.  Despite my trumpeting of the virtues of setting up a pull list for all the independent titles you read a lot, I personally only have four titles on my pull list: the two Bendis X-Men titles (which are about to end), Waid's Daredevil, and Regular Show.  I support my LCS back home, which stores away my books until whenever I get back to NY.  Other than that, I just sporadically buy stuff.  But, I'm a sucker for the X-Men, for Daredevil, and for Mordecai and Trash Boat-- err, Rigby. In fact, I like Regular Show so much that in my master's thesis on comics as pictorial narrative art, a small section is devoted to a single page by this issue's artist, Allison Strejlau.  People who have their heads buried in the sand of the Big 2 might be shocked to hear this, but I really mean it: of the four titles I read no matter what, Regular Show is the best one.

I'm really serious.  I went to Free Comic Book Day this weekend, and the store had a line going out the door down the length of the strip mall (probably because it's the only real comic shop in town, but they're fantastic and have been selling themselves really well lately).  Once I got inside, it wasn't a mad grab for FCBD titles; rather, they had pre-arranged packets to choose from.  You could pick either a bundle of all-ages releases, or the 13+ releases.  I opted for the all-ages release, specifically because, at the very least, this would have Regular Show.  Everybody got the Marvel and DC releases, but I would have rather foregone those for something else.  Frankly, all-ages titles are better than anything mainstream these days, and I'm just so bored of the tired superhero shtick that I would much rather see the kinds of hijinks that happen at The Park.

Regular-Show-#23Regular Show #23 is the beginning of a new story arc.  So, if you haven't read the comic and are a fan of the show, or just want to see why I won't shut up about how great this series is, you should pick this comic up.  Fans of the show will be happy to see the very first moment center on a shot of the words "MY MOM" emblazoned on a silver screen.  The plot centers on a movie, which may or may not actually exist, about alien dinosaurs.  One of my favorite constant themes in the Regular Show world is how they manage to add so much hyperbolic absurdity to the kind of mythic quality that rare VHS tapes already have in the real world.  It's not a tired plot at all: it's an interesting and fun one worth returning to.

And I have another confession to make, though it shouldn't be surprising given everything I've said so far: I love Allison Strejlau.  I mean that in the least creepy but most nerdy way possible.  The emotions of the characters on the television version of Regular Show are often conveyed by facial expressions; but, these are played relatively straight compared to other aspects of the show, and the voice work really carries most of the emotional timbre.  Strejlau's work makes up for the lack of sound in comics, something that is otherwise central to the Regular Show experience.  She is, I think, the best example of someone who is providing a unique interpretation of an animated show which makes the comic version worth reading.

If you recall, my biggest problem with the first issue of Rick and Morty was that they might as well have just turned that issue of the comic into an episode of the TV show: the thing read like a storyboard.  I'm not trying to say how much better Regular Show is than Rick and Morty; but, it's an important point of contrast that illustrates why I like this comic so much, and why artists like Strejlau are at the center of the equation.  Other issues have showcased her abilities to layout pages better than this one (not that there's anything wrong with this one, there's just some really fun experimental stuff in others), but just look at what she does with facial expressions.  If you took all of the dialog out of this issue, the facial expressions would still tell like 80% of the story, and in a beautiful, exaggerated, hilarious fashion that goes above and beyond the television format.

There's just so much personality packed into a comic which already benefits from the personalities of its characters: the colors and letters set a whimsical tone without making any one page more overwhelming than it has to be.  I'm excited for the rest of this story arc.

Score: 4/5

Regular Show #23 Writer: Mad Rupert Artist: Allison Strejlau Publisher: BOOM!/KaBoom Price: $3.99 Release Date: 5/6/15 Format: Ongoing, Print/Digital