Monday, May 6, 2013

TOM THE DANCING BUG by Ruben Bolling

Tom the Dancing Bug is a 1992 collection of Ruben Bolling’s eponymous weekly cartoons. TDB is a very funny, very clever comic: it’s satire that’s insightful and cutting without being whiny or below the belt. It’s the only cartoon strip I read anymore. Long-time readers will find these early cartoons an interesting contrast with Bolling’s current work.

It’s clear that Bolling is still finding his way here to some extent, as a good number of the cartoons go for corny punchlines in the manner of standard cartoon strips, and they aren’t all played with a straight face (which is when TDB is at its very best). That is, they don’t always feel like Tom the Dancing Bug comics.

A number of TDB’s best features aren’t here yet in this early collection, including Lucky Ducky, God-Man, and Super Fun-Pak Comix; there are also a lot more of Max and Doug and some other features we don’t see too much anymore, like Harvey Richards, Lawyer for Children (which accounts for many of this collection’s best items). Bolling also does some serial storytelling, which he’s since abandoned. Bolling has come a fair way with his art, too, in the years since these cartoons were published.

If you aren’t reading Tom the Dancing Bug, you ought to be. And while this collection isn’t Bolling at his finest, there are quite a few gems here.