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Pig Tales / Cartoon Workshop
posted December 14, 2006


Creators: Jessica Ciocci (Pig Tales), Ben Jones (Cartoon Workshop)
Publishing Information: PictureBox Inc., softcover, full-color, 90 pages, 2007
Ordering Numbers: 0978972201 (ISBN)

First came the oversized trade, then came the comic book, then came the comics magazine and now PictureBox, Inc. subverts the Archie Digest form of comic book for its own nefarious purposes. In a flipover, full-color joke book small enough to slip into a baggier jeans pocket, Paper Rad bounces back and forth between a series of layered portraits and two extended joke narrative depending on which end you come into the book. The Cartoon Workshop side features a rambling adventure with Chuck Norris and Super Ninja, while the Pig Tales side is a recurring conversation between two female protagonists that intermittently pounce on the smallest social or interpersonal advantage like the communities in Road Warrior do battle over fuel.

The thing about this material is that it's frequently funny in a way that's just about as mainstream as you can get, whether it's Norris' cruelty or a character movie title namedropping FX 2. It's almost like reading early Matt Groening that way, this artistic abstraction of squabbling over pop culture nonsense based in character observations. But it should also please those who come for the art, particularly those pages given over to layered, multi-hued, compressed configurations of figure and lettering. It's not as strong an effort as Paper Rad, B.J. and Da Dogs, but it's a more accessible one without moving away from the group's strengths.