Dawson, Mike – Troop 142

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Troop 142

I recently mentioned (and probably have several other times as well) that I loved this “job” because it gives me a chance to see comic artists at all stages of their careers, from scribbles with all kinds of typos to the eventual polished version later on. The trouble is that, what with this being mostly a mini comics kind of a website and all, I often lose track of people once they start putting out graphic novels on a regular basis. Not so much if I have a regular source of income, but when I don’t they have a tendency to fade into the background for me. This is all a long-winded way of me saying that Mike was one of the first people to send me review comics back in the day, but I haven’t read any of his new comics for at least five years, and I’m thrilled that he’s one of the people from back in the day who “made it.” I have no clue if he’s making a living off his comics yet, but artistically speaking he seems to have put all the pieces together. I should point out that my copy of this also came with a “142” boy scout badge, which was a neat little thing to throw in here, but I’m not sure if that comes with all the copies. This book is all about a week of summer camp for this troop in 1995. A lot of people are probably going to call this a “coming of age” story, but I think that’s a lazy way to look at it, as most of the characters in here don’t come to any serious realizations at the end of the week or change in any significant way. What this book does do perfectly is capture that moment in time, that late adolescent awkwardness where things are starting to change for some people in your age group, but the changes come at a different pace for different people. In this summer camp we get examples of bullying (that mostly (but not always) stay below causing the victim any actual harm), taking LSD and sitting around a campfire, unconscious homosexual experimenting, communal showers (and a communal toilet), living in a tent for a week, and some of the classes needed for Boy Scout badges. But the main thing on display here is the conversations between these kids, and they’re scary accurate from my memories of the time. A lot of adults try to protect the youngsters from foul language and anything untoward, which naturally leads to kids saying the most vile curse words that they hear whenever they get the chance. There’s also a smaller plot in here about a camp counselor (who’s there with his two sons) and the troubles he has fitting in. What’s the etiquette for sleeping in a tent with another man? What are the exact rules for maintaining discipline while not going over the line, especially when it’s your kids that are getting picked on? There are countless quiet (or loud) moments of conversation in here that I’ll let you discover for yourself, but I’d have to think this book would really hit home with people who went through this process themselves. As for the rest of us, you probably already know if you’re interested in this book, as a tale of summer camp for Boy Scouts either interests you or it doesn’t. But if you’re on the fence it’s well worth giving this thing a shot. $20

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