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Friday, February 02, 2007

RAGMOP by Rob Walton

Rob Walton recently revised and completed his 1990s comic book series RAGMOP for a massive 450+ page volume from his own Planet Lucy Press. You can read more about it on Walton's blog, with a lot of sample pages from the entries last summer, and read an interview with Walton and order a copy with a signed illustrated bookplate here.

The book is a delightfully wacky sci-fi comedy caper, featuring aspiring super-villain Alice Hawkings getting involved in the search for the mysterious all-powerful cosmic device the O-Ring. Walton then proceeds to toss in anything else he can think of into the mix, including time-travelling dinosaurs, fallen angels, aliens, conspiracy theories, government plots, religious intrigue, economic theory, gender roles, theoretical physics and much more. All with a healthy mix of slapstick comedy which pays homage to classic movies, animations and comics in more ways than I can count.

It's a delightful book in this new form, even better than the original (which ended prematurely a decade ago with a two-page text summary of the planned ending in the 13th issue, which take up about 70 pages in this new book). Instead of a straight reprint of the original issues, the whole thing is revised, with a few sub-plots being dropped (most notably most of the story involving the Seuss-inspired Baron von Rudd pursuing the dinosaurs), other things being added or tweaked (one segment is completely revised to become a Tarantino parody) and a few other changes bringing the politics up-to-date (although the idiot-President character needed surprisingly little change to fit the present). Walton does sometimes get a little long-winded in some of the political or economic asides, but he at least acknowledges that and does keep them visually interesting.

Mostly, though, it's just a fun romp through some fantastic situations with a lot of bold comedy that we don't see enough of in comics. Walton isn't afraid to try just about anything for a laugh, low-brow or high-brow, so the book is filled with asides to the audience, ridiculous prop gags and allusions to anything in pop culture that might be applicable.

The book is also jammed with extras in addition to the main story, with intros by Steve Darnall and Stephen Bissette, the "Adam Smith vs. Capitalism" back-ups by Walton's brother Brad from the original series, an extensive bibliography and various other short stories.

Definitely one of the best new books I've picked up recently, highly recommended.

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