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23 January 2008

Jamie Cosley's NOBODY LIKES TONY PONY

Nobody Likes Tony Pony by Jamie Cosley
24 p b&w traditional pamphlet comic sized with color cover.

I had a bit of familiarity with Jamie Cosley's drawings and strips from "art sharing" thread at The Comic's Journal message board so I was pretty excited when I opened my mail and found this Tony Pony comic. The cover is very well designed and makes a strong first impression. If I were at a comic shop, I would pick this book up and take a look based on the cover alone. It has a simple yet bold design and a pleasing color pallet. The interior art is equally polished. Simple but clean and effective. From what I gather by looking at the creator's blog, this book is a collection of one page web comic strips. Each strip is about four panels long and presented vertically in standard comic page style but I think they would work just as well horizontally in newspaper style. The character design and cartooning are pretty strong. The strips are about Tony Pony who works in an office chair store. The expected retail comedy about oddball co-workers and crazy customers is pretty mild but funny. Most of the strips deliver. If I did the math, page by page, I think I would say that it works more often than not. That's more than I can say for a lot of newspaper strips or webcomics.
I would like to see a little more visual clues on just what it is like to work in this office chair store. I'm not one to suggest that every panel needs detailed backgrounds but if you look at each strip on it's own, there is not a lot to clue the reader in about the setting. In Peanuts if you see a desk and a chalk board, you know right away that you are in the classroom. In Dilbert, if you see a long table and a flip chart, you know they are in an office meeting/boardroom setting. Not that I have any suggestions on what visual clues would make a reader think "oh, office chair store".
Judging the book as a whole and not as a collection of strips, once again, I think it could use a few more panels establishing the setting. Maybe one or two exteriors. Maybe even an old school Marvel style "hey kids, look at this amazing cut-away of the Baxter Building" type thing to paint a picture of Tony Pony's world.
A few of the strips deal with Tony Pony and his son. I like these strips more than the office jokes. A man that is a horse being the father of a human boy dressed in a bear suit is pretty funny regardless of the punchline. Looking at the creator's blog, it looks like the strip may be headed more in this direction. I like Jamie Cosley's style and sense of humor so I bookmarked the blog and will check in on it again. One thing particular that caught my eye was this image of Solomon Bounce. I can't think of any way a comic about a three armed space rabbit with a walrus sidekick could go wrong.
Your best pal ever,
Shannon Smith


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