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Sunday, March 20, 2005

PATTY CAKE & FRIENDS v2#13 by Scott Roberts

I recently picked up the 13th issue of PATTY CAKE & FRIENDS by Scott Roberts (having missed the last few), labelled on the cover as the 10th anniversary of the book. I'm amazed at how prolific Roberts has been in the last decade. Counting the previous series and specials this is, I think, the 42nd issue, and Roberts has always done a lot more comics than average in each issue (at least 30 pages in each issue prior to this series, about 48 or more in this series), plus extra work for tradepaperbacks and other books. I'm sure at this point he's done over 1500 pages of Patty Cake stories, plus lots of other comics work in the time (a long run on the Rugrats comic strip and now colouring Prince Valiant). Impressive even if the material wasn't good, but of course it is.

Unusually, a few guest artists this time around. That cover is a painting Roberts' mother did as a teenager, as this issue is dedicated to her with a very touching art and a note in the back (and a great backcover photo of a Patty Cake cake she made for him in 1967). Also an artist named Rich Watson draws a two page story, which is okay, but it always looks odd when another style is used for such a familiar character.

Two stories make up the bulk of the issue. "Future Shock" is an unusual one, jumping twelve years into the future and using a neighbourhood barbecue as an excuse to catch up on all the characters. It's an interesting look at how the fundamental characters don't change even as their situations do. I especially liked the use of cutaway scenes to absent characters and what they're doing as the main characters discuss them.

The second long story is a more typical Patty Cake story, "Chow Time", featuring her father taking her to a roadside diner. As you can imagine chaos ensues, coming from a variety of expected and unexpected sources. Patty Cake and her father have one of the most entertaining relationships in the book, and a story featuring the two of them out in the world is almost sure to be fun.

I'm glad that the book does well enough for Roberts to continue producing issues on a regular basis between his other work. For some reason it seems to fly under the radar of most comic stores (I've had to special order most of the issues I have, rarely seeing it on the stands), so I doubt that most people would enjoy it have seen it. It's well worth seeking out if you're a fan of the classic humour comics and animation work that influence Roberts' work.

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