story and art by Jamie Smart
me just say it’s a damn crime that Slave Labor Graphics
hasn’t flooded the market with Bear paraphernalia.
Oh, sure, I’ve seen a T-shirt and some stickers, but
this is the kind of franchise fortunes are made on: cute,
funny, randomly violent, nonsensical, raucous, and every-so-slightly
follows the adventures of a living teddy bear, a psychotic
cat named Looshkin, and the poor sod who owns them (He has
a name, but I’ll be damned if… Ah! It’s
Karl!). The issues, like Milk and Cheese or Dork,
collect numerous short stories crammed onto five or six
pages each that have no real order or impact on each other.
you consider that Looshkin burns down the house or gets
one of them dismembered in every issue, this is probably
for the best.
month, we see what happens when Karl tries to bring a new
pet dog into the house (Looshkin sorta killed the last one,
natch). Then Bear finds himself without a body and in a
very Misery-esque situation when a creepy old lady
tends to his wounds.
finally manages to get a date (with a woman!) later on and
foolishly leaves his cohorts to mind the house. Following
the ensuing mayhem, Jamie Smart proves his willingness to
become a corporate whore by creating an episode of “Bear
and Looshkin Bay-Beez” and the issue concludes with
a zombie attack and ample reference to Michael Jackson’s
yeah, this stuff is really quick and random, filling each
page with dozens of panels and more words than you’ll
probably want to read. It tears along with little concern
for theme, plot, or characterization and can leave you pretty
exhausted if you try to read it all in one go (I can only
imagine the strain the trade paperback will put on the average
I’m all for random violence and cute little animals
bludgeoning each other with lawnmowers, but the story structure…
well, there just isn’t any. It’s the kind of
problem that makes Milk and Cheese comics so hard
to read at times. Jhonen Vasquez was able to avoid this
by continuing threads in Johnny the Homicidal Maniac
and doing some eleventh hour plot fixes to tie the whole
thing together. Here, it’s all about rapid fire adventuring
that allows you to pick up any Bear issue without
reading any of the prior ones.
when Smart does one page stories with peripheral characters
like Elliot or Justin, there’s no thread to come back
to when the next Bear story starts. Unlike Vasquez’s
Filler Bunny or Happy Noodle Boy, it doesn’t feel
like a quick little commercial break so much as an obstacle
to get past.
I should really quit comparing Smart to Vasquez because
this material isn’t about blood, aliens, or Goths
at all. His art style is more akin to Evan Dorkin’s
work, but it inhabits a completely cartoony reality where
people rarely look human and cats seem to have cones for
ears. The method is a strange mix of hatching and solid
blacks and whites and Smart writes so many curses against
his brushes in the margin that I can only wonder what tools
he must be using. Regardless, it’s instantly eye-catching.
makes me keep referring to Vasquez, however, is the audience
that should be reading this book. Bear is a definitive
Slave Labor book that should appeal to comic fiends, angry
teens, anglophile lites, and possibly a few teddy bear collectors
(though I really doubt it). With the almost quarterly release
schedule, it’s probably better to pick up and put
down rather than barrel through in an afternoon, but, like
Johnny and Lenore, this title should be
riding Hot Topic shelves for years to come.
dammit, where’s the merchandising?! Where are my Bear
and Looshkin plush dolls? Where’s the big satanic
Looshkin patch for my backpack? Where’s the giant-headed
Bear air freshener for my car? They’re sitting on
a freakin’ goldmine here and they don’t even
Take my money!