In a world where the terms iconic, legendary, heroic and awe-inspiring are bandied about so often that they’ve begun to lose their meaning and their potency, it is reassuring to know that there are still a handful of characters out there for whom these powerful descriptors still hold true… even if one of them is a buck-toothed sentient sponge with very square pants who lives with a meowing snail called Gary and flips patties at The Krusty Krab. And that, ladies and gentleman, is what makes SpongeBob Comics: Treasure Chest – a compilation of SpongeBob comic strips with a facsimile of SpongeBob Comics No.1 tucked into a neat flap at the back of the book – required reading for everyone.
Well, everyone who loves SpongeBob that is. Because, like Marmite and Scrappy Doo, our porous big-hearted hero is an acquired taste, and his translation from the TV screen to the comic book format is a bit of a hit-and-miss affair.
Let’s face it, the success of SpongeBob lies in his universal appeal, the fact that kids can enjoy him on one level while adults can grin at the small asides and mischievous pop culture references that the younger ones just won’t get but, unfortunately, very little of that translates to the stories within these pages. Now that’s not to say that the collection doesn’t occasionally have its moments – a painting duel between SpongBob and SquidWard briefly recaptures the TV show’s imaginative anarchy, a time travelling quest to recover the krabby patty formula raises some smiles and the ‘Spongebob Consumerpants’ story almost hits its satirical mark – but too many of the episodes outstay their welcome and end on gags that are lamer than a peg-legged catfish.
On the plus side, this is a great-looking collection: a thick hardback inside a glossy slip-case with almost 200 beautifully coloured pages – a veritable smorgasbord (or surf-and-no-turf?) of SpongeBob goodness - and it’s obvious from this book’s packaging that this collection is square(pants)ly aimed at the older market. It’s just a shame that the content wasn’t given the same care and attention.
SPONGEBOB COMICS: TREASURE CHEST / AUTHOR: STEPHEN HILLENBURG / PUBLISHER: ABRAMS COMICARTS / RELEASE DATE: OCTOBER 3RD