Review published on December 29, 2013.Reviewed by Erin Britton
Nudge Reviewer Rating:
The Wallace & Gromit comic strips first appeared (not without Helen Lovejoy-style controversy) in The Sun newspaper in 2010 and the series ran on a schedule of six three-panel strips a week for the next three years. Wallace & Gromit: The Complete Newspaper Strips Vol. 1 is a compendium of the 312 individual strips (making up 52 self-contained stories) that were published during the first year and, while not all up to vintage Wallace & Gromit quality and comedy levels, should prove a big hit with fans of the dynamic, cheese-loving duo.
Centring on their daily lives at 62 West Wallaby Street, the comic strips involve Wallace and Gromit (well, mainly Wallace) engaging in a series of hare-brained schemes to better some mundane chore/event via the use of an unlikely and often ineffectual invention. Whether it be Wallace attempting to win the annual cheese rolling contest in ‘The Edam Dusters’ or his attempts to make the game of golf more efficient in ‘Hole in One (Hundred)’, he’s every bit as lucky to have Gromit around to help him in the comic strips as he is in the films. There are definitely plenty of hijinks to be found in Wallace’s adventures but there’s also a bit of danger too: Feathers McGraw has busted out of the slammer and, armed with some thoroughly believable disguises, is ready for another crime spree.
As well as the amusing storylines, here are some excellent sight gags lurking in the strips, many that may be more amusing to adults than to children. The level of punning is set to extra high and the cheesy (in both senses of the words) references are abundant. Book lovers will probably get a particular kick out of spotting Gromit’s choices of reading material: The Dog Delusion by Richard Pawkins, Paws by Peter Barkley and On the Origin of the Species by Charles Darwinalot are particular favourites.
While Wallace & Gromit is overall a good, entertaining read, it must be said that since the strips were written by a team rather than by a single writer, they can be a bit of a mixed bag. Generally speaking, even the most groan-worthy of puns (‘Bona Lisa’ and ‘Sweet Dreams are Made of Cheese’, I’m looking at you) can be salvaged by a good storyline but occasionally the expected build-up to a story is sacrificed completely so that there is just a [rather weak] punch line. These plotless ‘Funnies’ strips do let the collection down although they’re more distracting than dire.
Wallace & Gromit: The Complete Newspaper Strips Vol. 1 [as well as being a bit of a mouthful] is a really well-produced book. There is a foreword by Aardman supremo Nick Park as well as an amusing (and, admittedly, informative) feature – “Tomb of the Unknown Artist” – that gives credit to the team of artists and writers who actually produced the strips but were rarely given recognition at the time. The strips themselves are well reproduced and the book also includes a good selection of photographs from the Wallace & Gromit films that are bound to please fans.
Penelope Fitzgerald: A Life, by Hermione Lee
Save the Story: a review of an inspired idea as well as The Story of Gulliver, The Story of Antigone and The Story of Don Juan
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