Review: Todd, The Ugliest Kid On Earth, Volume 1 / Author: Ken Kristensen / Artist: M. K. Perker / Publisher: Image / Release Date: Out Now
Sequential art and satire have a long history, and there’s so much high quality work of this kind out there, it’s tempting to think that it’s easy. Alas, Todd, The Ugliest Kid On Earth proves that this is not the case. The premise is simple: Todd is a boy so ugly they make him wear a bag on his head. His parents are uncaring buffoons and everyone else in Todd’s world is a selfish idiot. Due to a series of convenient narrative devices, Todd (a small boy) finds himself in prison for homicide, and wackiness ensues. Except it isn’t really wacky, merely tedious.
Todd, The Ugliest Kid On Earth attempts to derive its humour from cruelty mixed with a heavy-handed cartoon style. Everything is presented in a hilariously horrible way, and the art itself is brilliantly done, as well as being comedic and interesting. The problem is that it relies on a very small list of jokes; Todd is ugly, people are over the top and stupid, and everyone but Todd is cruel and selfish. This also means that there are no likeable characters in the entire book; everyone is horrible (and not in a funny way), except Todd himself, who is an innocent child. The joke, of course, is that the boy has no idea how awful things really are, and we are meant to laugh at his innocent ignorance. Sadly, these sort of gags simply don’t suit the over-the-top art style, making the key scenes sad rather than amusing.
What is meant to be a combination of horror, comedy and satire is instead a mess of neurotic gags and cheap shots. Innocents in a horrible world can be a great subject for black humour; Johannen Vasquez’s Squee is a prime example of how to do it properly. Todd, The Ugliest Kid On Earth is clearly an attempt to mimic Squee, but it mistakes fun derived from absurdity with cruelty, and becomes dull instead. Shock value wise, it comes close to Mark Millar’s The Unfunnies, though it lacks the weirdness of that work. The attempted jokes are layered on thick in a style that will be familiar to people who enjoy movies like Meet the Spartans and Movie 43.
If you like your satirical comic-books filled with urban horror, inhuman cruelty and an utter lack of charm, then this may appeal to you, but there are far more shocking and certainly far funnier books out there.