Writer & Artist: Brian Ralph
Publisher: Drawn & Quarterly
Release Date: September 3, 2013
Collecting strips published in several different places, Giant Robot foremost among them, Reggie-12 is both full of terrific jokes and crafted with great care. Both qualities are evident in the book’s construction, which layers a subtle varnish on a pattern of transparent gears for sections of the cover, as well as provides some gorgeously drawn and very funny endpapers.
Reggie-12 derives from Astro Boy among other sources, clear from the character’s exaggerated visual style. Reggie-12 himself, our superhero robot child, is all expressive giant eyes and smiles, topped off with some cute little cat ears. But writer/artist Brian Ralph tempers the cuteness with plenty of antisocial behavior from his characters. Reggie-12 generally behaves himself (petty jealousy, sloth, and commitment to terrible puns aside), but his robot predecessor Donald-14 is as mopey as C-3PO, his inventor is forgetful and sometimes heartless, and their talking cat, Casper, is the Bender of the group, thoroughly committed to self-interest above all else.
The other major comedy device Ralph deploys is a healthy dose of the mundane. When Reggie-12 isn’t fighting giant monsters and saving the world, he’s playing video games, eating pizza, and slobbing around on the couch. A surprising amount of the book takes place on said couch. It’s not a new method, but Ralph captures the everyday swing between perceived drama (Ugh! My email is taking so long to load! Worst ever!) and bored cynicism with relish and amusement.
The action sequences are full of heft and detail. Each corner bears some nice and thoughtful element—surprised citizens peering from the ruins, the contents of a monster’s stomach, an especially jaunty slouch—all rendered in two glorious colors. Reggie-12 is a winning book, full of gleeful goofiness that never quite gets squashed by reality.