RoboChuck embodies what a great comic can and should be: simply put, the visual telling of a story. So many times, however, the focus lays solely on the artwork, and the script takes a back seat, not just in structure, but in language. Chris Callahan has knocked it out of the park on all fronts with his first issue of RoboChuck. This comic contains political satire, commentary on the comic industry, witty dialogue, complex and purposeful plot lines, as well as a main character you grow to love.
RoboChuck tells the story of Flattown, the land where all two-dimensional, hand-drawn cartoons live and used to work. Because the town is now poor and out of work, it is still stuck stylistically in the era of its prime, as is the style of this comic. The villain of the story, Piczar, is the company with the monopoly on the CG cartoon business, because they are the only ones who know how to make computers; however, someone in Flattown has been stealing computer parts . . . dun dun dun. The comic’s namesake, RoboChuck, is one of the only CG that lives in Flattown and dreams of being a real actor with meaningful roles, no more commercials where he hits himself with a hammer. All the while, Flattown residents eagerly await the return of their missing President and advocate, Baroness Von Viper. The town is littered with her photo saying, “Never forget!”
Chris Callahan has fun introducing characters with “Meet” pages, where he illustrates a close-up of the character and details a description while continuing the plot. Every so often, he throws in a random “Fun Fact.” For example, Johnny the Bear “always says goodbye in the form of a life lesson show sign off.” The artwork is highly stylized, mirroring the time period when 2D hand-drawn animation thrived. The lettering is also reminiscent of classic cartoon styles, such as early Looney Toons. As I was reading, it felt as though I was often reading a storyboard for a cartoon, which is ironic as Callahan started off writing RoboChuck as a screenplay. It very much had the feel of Who Framed Roger Rabbit? I think its origins only added to its development as a comic book.
What really stands out in this comic is the consistency. It is apparent that tedious planning and editing were put into each section of the story, be it through dialogue, characters, illustrations, or lettering; everything complementing each other and the story at hand. Nothing felt out of place. Rarely do I have anything but accolades for a title, because there is always room for improvement. That being said, RoboChuck has clearly been a passion project in the making for several years. Its first issue comes out without any glitches. RoboChuck owns its genre, sucks the reader in, and demands you take notice. Well, I did . . . and I noticed the story isn’t over . . . so here I am waiting for the second issue like an addict. Never forget!