When I first saw the description of “Raising Amy,” I was intrigued. It basically sounded like it would be a bit of a ramped up version of “Calvin & Hobbes”/”Dennis the Menace” except in female form. I mean she’s described as being ginger, Scottish, crazy and armed…always looking for someone to terrorize. And the front cover shows a precocious cartoony young girl…holding a chainsaw and a headless teddy bear. But…I was left disappointed by this comic book.
Amy is a precocious young girl who likes doing normal everyday things…like playing with swords, driving her parents insane, and attempting to scare away the baby sitter (who doesn’t take much gruff from her.) And of course watching the babysitter, Flower, deal with the friendly neighborhood stalker, Dick, who has a crush on her. In this issue we’re introduced to Amy, her family, and the host of characters that inhabit her world.
My first problem that I have is that there’s not an actual story line to this book. It’s a collection of a comic strip called “Raising Amy.” Which would have been fine if it felt like there was some type of story that flowed in the comic, instead it’s often a gag a day…one that’s heavily influenced by “Calvin & Hobbes” and “The Simpsons,” but it doesn’t do either of them well. The thing that I always liked about “Calvin & Hobbes” is that Watterson was a master at creating a story in three short panels and letting us understand his characters and what they were doing. Even “Dennis the Menace” had that ability in a single panel (although whether your care about the characters or not is up to your own personal preference.) And that’s whats lacking in this strip. There’s not a story in the panels, it doesn’t tell us about the world, or about Amy…it’s just a series of throwaway panels. There are few snorts here and there and a young reader might like it, but it’s just not for me.
The artwork is ok, but there’s nothing really special. Most of the comics have no background so the focus is on the characters themselves, which isn’t bad. He’s developed the characters well and draws them consistently. But they often repeat the same facial expressions over and over again. Happy doesn’t really look all that different from sad, it just all blends together. He’s also really heavy into using the flare effect, which would be great if it fit, but in many cases it doesn’t. For example, in strip 14 there’s a flare effect around the money in the last panel. Why? He also uses it around the characters from time to time, seemingly for no reason and it’s a bit distracting.
I’d give this to a kid in elementary school, they might get a laugh out of it, but although it made me snort in a few places there just isn’t enough here for me to really enjoy it.
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