Review: Rocko’s Modern Life #2
If you’re old enough to drive or smoke, then you’ve probably had a job and/or a boss that felt like hell or Satan. (Or Peaches, his all ages friendly equivalent.) But in Rocko’s Modern Life #2, the titular wallaby works in the literal place, Hell, or “Heck” as it’s called because this is a family friendly comic. Ryan Ferrier’s plot centers around Rocko trying to find a loophole to get his soul back so he can be employed somewhere that doesn’t involve raging torment or glowering, orange flames courtesy of artist Ian McGinty and colorist Fred Stresing. Ferrier, McGinty, and Stresing expertly blend the every day trials of employment and terrible roommates with the wacky anarchy in art styles and storytelling that made 90s Nick animation so great. (That last sentence made me crave CatDog Cheese Nips for some reason.)
Ian McGinty has done solid work as the artist on modern licensed animation comics like Adventure Time and Bravest Warriors and shows he can kick it old school too in Rocko #2. Rocko himself runs on rage and insecurity, and McGinty shows this visually with plenty of bloodshot eyes that seriously freaked me out when I was a kid and watching these kind of shows. He uses close-ups when Rocko is asserting himself like when he finally tells the mold causing, water park that is toxic to people with nut allergies creating worst housemate ever to hit the road and positions him off to the side when he’s being cowed like most of the time in “Heck”. The Heck scenes have a bit of flair to them with McGinty using layouts that look like a parchment scroll to set up Rocko’s forfeiting his soul and transitioning the story from workplace satire to Hellblazer for kids with anthropomorphic animals. This tone is assisted by Stresing’s “darkness, no parents” color palette used whenever Rocko is either on the clock or hanging onto sanity by one last frayed thread.
However, Rocko #2 isn’t all over the top and grotesque things like Rocko being forced to milk his boss (A demon cow.) for 18 hours. Rocko’s sad sack walk and eyes reminded me of collapsing in bed after working a double shift at Target and never wanting to socialize ever again. Even though it’s based on a cartoon, the first two issues of Rocko’s Modern Life have captured the feeling of anxiety, resignation, and occasionally straight up disgust that people (Young and old) have towards their jobs. (We need them to live, oops.) It doesn’t have any big epiphanies and thankfully no preaching, but gives its protagonist small victories that give him a glimmer of hope in a world that muddied by mold and peanut butter sludge. Also, Ryan Ferrier writes animal puns that have no business being as funny as they are.
Rocko’s Modern Life #2 is the soothing comic book balm for optimistic 90s kid that find professional life in 2018 figuratively or literally soulless. There’s even amusing backup story written and drawn by David DeGrand in a kind of The Nib art style about the perils of wearing a big costume to comic cons. I don’t see how those Optimus Prime cosplayers pull it off.
Story: Ryan Ferrier Art: Ian McGinty Colors: Fred C. Stresing Backup Story/Art: David DeGrand
Story: 8.5 Art: 8.7 Overall: 8.6 Recommendation: Buy
BOOM! Studios/Kaboom! provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review