Review: The Complete Newspaper Wallace & Gromit Comic Strips Collection / Author: Various / Artist: Various / Publisher: Titan Books / Release Date: Out Now
The tabloid publication that is The Sun tends to divide people; there are those who buy it, knowing that they’re responsible for making it the United Kingdom’s most read source of gossip and sporting information, and there are those who don’t understand the appeal and wonder why the notoriously biased and hyperbole-filled rag is so popular.
If you’re in the latter category, then you are probably unaware that it’s also the home of the Wallace and Gromit comic strip. Based on the popular animated characters created by Nick Park and the Aardman studio, The Complete Newspaper Wallace & Gromit Comic Strips Collection is a handy solution for those looking to catch up on the adventures of the hilarious inventor and his genius dog. (It’s also published by Titan Books, who are not connected to The Sun). Aardman’s intention in turning their loveable and family-friendly buffoons into the stars of a daily three panel comic strip was to follow in the footsteps of classic newspaper cartoons such as Peanuts and Andy Capp. There are three strips on each page, and two pages make up a week’s worth of strip. (Clearly Wallace and Gromit take the Sunday off). Each week has a loose theme; one week might be about ice-skating, then another week it could be baking. They’re two-dimensional drawn comic strips, rather than photo stills, though there are some photos of the ‘live-action’ versions of the characters as well, which break up the various sections nicely.
In all cases, the essential silliness of the characters is maintained. Wallace is clever but clueless; Gromit is wise, practical and doomed to end up the punchline of something unfortunate. The elements that made these two so popular; wacky hijinks, mad inventions and terrible, terrible puns stay consistent throughout, as does the art. The jokes are a little samey, and the art is never going to win any prizes (though it’ll probably appear in an exhibition or two at some point). It hardly matters; Wallace and Gromit are as funny on the page as they are on the screen, and if you love them, you’ll love this.