The Kurdles was some of the most fun I’ve had with a kids book probably ever. The graphic novel was endearing, heartwarming, and funny, even for adults. It has been over three years since the book released, but this week Rob Goodin’s The Kurdles Magazine #1 is here — is it good?
So what’s it about?
The official summary reads:
This ALL-NEW, ALL-AGES comic magazine will thrill kids and parents alike! Featuring 48 pages of brand-new comics by acclaimed cartoonists Robert Goodin (The Kurdles), Cathy Malkasian (Percy Gloom), and other surprises! Starring the Kurdles! Greta Grump! Howdy Pardner! Pacho Clokey! The best kids comic mag since the demise of Nickelodeon magazine!
Why does this matter?
Goodin is joined by Rugrats cartoonist Cathy Malkasian as well as Cesar Spinoza and Andrew Brandou in this anthology for kids and adults who are young at heart. The beauty of The Kurdles is how it’s not cutesy and never talks down to children. It has an educated personality that is funny in its own weird way that anyone can love.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
I had high expectations for this magazine in part because I loved the original graphic novel so much. Opening this book with fourteen stories and pinups of varying length was incredibly uplifting and joyous. The stories continue the adventures of the Kurdles but also add to them with fun one-page stories with a little elf Photoshopped into photographs by Malkasian. The comic styles change as well, like a story about a cowboy named Howdy Pardner using a paper overlay style like South Park, a Sunday comic strip style, and a conventional comic book style too. There are also fun pinups splitting up the stories, giving the entire package that magazine feel.
This is the kind of book we need in these tumultuous times. The stories are filled with joy, happiness, and cheer in a variety of ways. That elf I was describing earlier reflects on the ordinary, making everything in his comics seem strange and extraordinary. The Kurdles continue to be strange and endearing, like the continued mystery of the teddy bear. How is he alive? In another interesting story, Pentapus falls in love with a woman in a story drawn in an old-school style complete with weathered yellow paper to age the narrative. Later she finds out he’s not human which causes a stir, and the story serves as a reflection on racism in America. In another story, we meet a little girl who is a total brat but is straightened out by a new pet turtle. There are lessons in these stories and they never sugarcoat or skimp, but are still funny and well rendered.
The stories vary in how difficult they may be for young kids, but that’s good because it may challenge kids and push their imaginations to further heights. They can also be self-reflective — take for instance a moment Sally the teddy bear has as she notices the colored dots on a post. These dots are what a comic book looks like super close up. The characters are somewhat aware they are in a comic book and that adds meta a layer that’s entertaining. In a way, this pushes children’s imaginations to think differently about the story.
It can’t be perfect can it?
As an anthology of shorter vignettes, I can’t say I loved every aspect of this, but that’s not really the point. The Pentapus “Knit a Toy” portion wasn’t something I needed for instance. It does add a different layer to the magazine style of this publication though. The pinups are cute, but they are more pieces of a puzzle.
Is it good?
This is a joyous book that’s excellent in so many aspects. It’s funny, visually stimulating, and above all else the most endearing reading experience you’ll have all year. You’ll finish this magazine and instantly think, “When does #2 come out?”