Great. A slacker comedy book. It's got a stoned beaver in it. How charming. Jokes about first dates, tripping on drugs, and porn. How dazzlingly original. Nobody has ever done that before. Everyone all impressed and shit at the stoner slacker book that things drugs are massive lulz? Well brace yourself for the twist.
I actually really liked this.
Written and illustrated by Turner Lange, the book concerns a young man named Wally Fresh and his life with his anthropomorphic beaver roommate and his crazy female neighbor. They do drugs, watch filthy movies, and insult each other. Stoner comedy is hard, because like actual people who are drunk and high, they tend think they are wildly more interesting to sober folks than they actually are. 'The Adventures of Wally Fresh' is a weird exception, because it doesn't do anything particularly original, it just does what has been done before really well.
In fact, it's practically an exercise in things that should suck being done correctly. The dialogue is thick with attempted wit, that is, wit filtered heavily through the post-Kevin Smith filter of profanity laden insults and non-sequitur sex jokes. And you know what? Most of the time it lands. From the first few lines of dialogue it had a nice flow and pattern to it, surprising me almost immediately. These aren't new jokes and a few fall into groaner territory, but honestly, some of this is animated TV show ready material. Lange demonstrates an ear for this kind of dialogue and the staging to make it work. I genuinely laughed out loud at this book. Not an expression, a genuine solid laugh. This may sound like a backhanded compliment, but believe me, it takes a lot to get that out of me unironically.
Can't credit the writing alone however, as Lange also shows that he can draw as well as he writes. Before the dialogue starts to show it's quality, you might be struck by the look of the book, with charismatic, expressive characters with flexible designs. The art is perhaps even more responsible for the comedy working than the writing, just so damn pleasant to read. Not to say there aren't problems. The art does fluctuate, some panels looking less stellar than others, and at least one that had a shockingly obvious and ugly bit of failed anatomy. Also, while I understand the use of black and white interiors in indie titles as a cost saving measure, in this case I think the book would have benefited from being fully colored. It isn't to say the art isn't legible or lacks information that color could have provided, simply that I simply think the energy of the book could have been further enhanced with some properly utilized colorwork.
Now, I won't lie, the book was riding high to a 4 out of 5 for me until the end rolled around. I had a blast with everything leading up to the final few pages, which did't totally take the wind out of my sails, but certainly felt like a minor let down creatively. I obviously won't spoil it, but it ends on a couple of simultaneously running cliches, both of which I'm more than a little tired of. Lange's humor shines through even this, but it did saddle the book right at the end, the only truly significant ding in the whole book.
I may sound like I've nitpicked a lot for this supposedly positive review, but let me clarify: this has been a pretty bland week in comics for me, and this book was by far the only indie I read that I enjoyed in the slightest. For a comedy comic with such a familiar premise, this is a good damn book. It's not good enough that if you don't like stoner comedy that this will overcome that, but for guys like me who have seen 'Harold and Kumar Go To White Castle' more times than 'The Godfather', this is a surprisingly solid entry into that genre. It's charming as fuck, and Lange did a lot to overcome a lot of my expectations for a book with a beaver with a blow-up doll in it. Regardless of criticisms, I want to read the next issue and hope to see this book get even better. It's good looking, it made me laugh, and I want more, because it's nice change of pace to be surprised for once.
The Adventures of Wally Fresh #1 Creator: Turner Lange Publisher: Rosarium Publishing Release Date: 11/10/15 Website