For anybody out there putting together a “best of” collection for any of their characters, this is how you do it. There are strips and stories in here from many different years, letters from fans, Shrimpy appearances in other comics, newspaper strips (some in glorious, glorious color), a cover gallery, even a FAQ. For those of you who have never been introduced the world of Shrimpy and Paul, well, you no longer have an excuse. The pages aren’t numbered, but I’d guess that it’s about 150 pages of great stuff. My favorite story in the universe, “The Ball, the Goose, the Power” is in here, as well as an interconnected epic that involves Kevin, Chia-Man, Saul (Paul’s brother who lives in his nipple), Blimpy, Mushroom Hed, Ib-Ub, Miss Polly, Taco, Mennod, Lucky E., Sanitation Man-Of-Festo, Tim Horton, Goose, Texas Sheriff, Mills, Cubby, Mr. Socks, Captain Beige, Mr. Duck Chocolate, Sue, Jambo Stretch, and Grumpy Man in Small Home. Nobody, and I mean nobody, has panels as intricate as Marc. It would take you over an hour to skim through this book, but everything in it is begging to be examined closely. This is truly one of those books that gets better with every read, as there are a ton of tiny side characters everywhere that you miss if you blink. It’s $16.95, and it’s one of those books that I’d pass out to everybody I knew if I was made of money. The humor might not be for everybody, I guess, if you don’t like things that are funny. As for me, this gets my vote for best collection of the year. Somebody find this man and give him a regular series, or a newspaper strip, or something. Talent like this should be rewarded. E-mail address!
Shrimpy and Paul (and Friends)
I’d heard a lot about this guy before I ever read him. His name was popping up on websites as the next big thing in minis, as being the next guy who was going to break out into the world of, say, Top Shelf or Highwater Books. I read another book of his and, honestly, thought it was a disorganized mess. Potential, sure, but it looked to me like he had another couple of years left before everything came together and he put out a really good book. But I had purchased Shrimpy and Paul in the same shipment, so I tried going into it with an open mind. The main story in this mini is called “The Ball, the Goose and the Power” and it is one of the best things I’ve ever read. And what a cast of characters! Taco, Cubby, Miss Polly, Chia-Man, even Big Boy in a brief cameo! It’s about a greedy goose and the things that Shrimpy does to try to please it. There is so much more to it than that, but the joy of reading minis like this is in discovering things for yourself. There are a few shorts in this as well, the one page strip about a dream (called ?????!!!!!) being the best. Apparently the main story in this issue ran in a newspaper too. And to think I was complaining a minute ago about him getting his shit together. Turns out that he’s at his best when his shit isn’t at all together. This is the kind of book where, if I had a ratings system that was on a 1-10 scale (with 10 being the best, of course), I would give it an 11. Yes, I know, that’s an impossible score and it belittles the whole point of having a ratings scale based on 1-10, which is why I don’t use it at all. The point is that it’s better than almost anything out there. The people who said that he’s the next big thing are right, if there’s any justice at all in the world. Elements of work from Doug Allen and Robert Crumb (the ‘Ol Simp character) are apparent, but he’s taken it to a whole new level. Buy whatever he has and then beg him to make more.