Ripley I. Plimpt is your average eleven-year-old kid who loves monster movies. He doesn’t just love them, he is an expert. He’s watched them all. “From Das Cabinet des Dr. Caligari, directed by Robert Weine in 1920, right up to Joseph Green’s The Brain That Wouldn’t Die in 1962, Rip has collected them all.” And he has realized that monsters are misunderstood. They are not bad, they are lonely. So he decides to find one and make friends. He is helped in this search by the fact that his house is bordered by a cemetery – lots of nice dark crypts to check out.
Finally, all his hard work is rewarded. One night he finds a bat impaled on a bush. Using his Bat Rescue Tongs (Rip is nothing if not prepared) he picks the bat up, band-aids on a splint, and hangs the bat from the roof of a nearby crypt to heal. That same night, the zombie shows up. His parents are not thrilled but Rip convinces them to give Dead Guy a chance. Dead Guy just misses having a family. His parents are absurdly open and understanding about having a zombie join the family, and support their son’s new friendship.
But then the werewolf with self esteem issues shows up and the strange glowing blob looking for its place in the world and the dead (and drunk) cat. Not to mention the psychotic kids next-door plotting Rip’s demise. It makes for a very action packed week.
This is a fun story where everyone just accepts the absurd (for example, the car mechanics freak out when they discover Dead Guy in the back seat, but when Rip tells them Dead Guy is a friend, they all work together to put Dead Guy back together. No problem.). There is a certain level of understanding of the humor in befriending monsters that helps one’s enjoyment of this comic.
The art seems to be a mix of styles, with Rip looking more like a cartoon but his parents looking more realistic. Rip moves around in a world of rich colors and deep shadows. At times, the backgrounds seems computer rendered, with the character’s superimposed in the scene. One gets the feeling that the comic could be a storyboard for a movie, each action shot is laid out so clearly.
This is a fun read suitable for middle school and up. (Scary monsters, lots of dark shadows, some comic violence, one scene of implied real violence).
by Mitch Schauer
Art by Mike Vosburg, Michael Lessa, Justin Yamaguchi
Fantagraphic Books, 2010