August 23, 2007

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Brewster Rockit: Space Guy! Close Encounters of the Worst Kind, by Tim Rickard (2007, Andrews McMeel, 128 pages)
Reviewed by Lisa Parsons news@hippopress.com

I have tried and tried and I just can’t find the funny in this comic strip. I can, however, see a little potential.

Each strip of Brewster Rockit reads like it could be a good launch pad for a more extended riff. But what might make a decent warm-up joke is presented each time as the punch line, and it falls flat. No one’s going to read Brewster Rockit for the artwork, which stops at being perfectly serviceable, so the jokes and the story carry all the weight — or don’t.

A mindless breeze through the pages suggests possibilities for an edgy mashup of sci-fi with domesticity, high-tech with dishwater and baby poop. A glimpse of a panel showing Capt. Brewster Rockit standing before a washing machine saying “The villainous stain didn’t come out!” enticed me. Alas, I was misled. At best the ensuing storyline resembles a set of Blue-Collar Comedy Tour bits that go nowhere. The upshot is that the insignia on the space guys’ uniforms, which look a lot like Star Trek uniforms, originated with a gravy stain.

But a single strip that goes

Brewster: “The villainous stain didn’t come out!”

Pam: “Relax. We’ll use a stain pretreatment on your shirt.”

Cliff: “What should I use on my thong underwear?”

Pam: “Flamethrower.”

just doesn’t do much for me; I don’t know about you. And they’re pretty much all like that.

The strip is set on a spaceship (the R.U. Sirius) commanded by Capt. Rockit, a vain pretty-boy airhead. The cast consists mainly of rather lifeless copilots Pam and Cliff, and boy apprentice Winky. Storylines have them attempting to spoof Planet of the Apes, Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, The Wizard of Oz and more, though not every strip is a spoof. But the frequent sendups fail to inspire.

Muzak on a spaceship; mommy astronaut having to drag her kids in to work on the ship — these ideas contain potential. I like the idea of clashing realities (the high-tech future and the daily grind), but it’s not working in this instance; something more is needed to bring the whole together.

Maybe Brewster would make a good starter strip for kids or a morsel for when you need little to no mental challenge. But for that we have Ziggy and Family Circus. This here is a Star Trek-style spaceship trying to run on a Green Acres fuel mix, and, folks, we do not have liftoff. C-Lisa Parsons