Review: Jack and the Zombie Box
Writer: Bruce Brown
Artist: Mike Barentine
Colorist: Rafael Hurtado
Letterer: Shawn DePasquale
Publisher: Arcana Studios
Release Date: May 10th, 2011
From the publisher’s blurb: "Jack is your typical 3 year old boy who has an imaginary friend named Uncle Bug. After messing up the kitchen, Jack’s dad is given the task of distracting his son while mom cleans up the mess. To occupy Jack, he plays a DVD of his childhood favorite cartoon. Jack then becomes obsessed with the show and his obsession begins to drive his entire family crazy." That sums up the plot of the comic nicely.
"Jack and the Zombie Box" is a slice of life comic that could easily happen to any parent of a young child and one that I imagine any haggard parent looking for a few minutes to themselves can appreciate.
The dialogue is, for the most part, true to life and the plot is reminiscent of a weeknight sitcom. There are a handful of places where it feels stiff, all discussions between the parents, and I found myself thinking it didn’t seem like something a couple arguing over their child might say. Overall, however, this is a minor complaint. My biggest complaint about the story is the total lack of explanation about Uncle Bug, Jack’s imaginary friend. If not for the blurb on the back cover of the book, I’d have had only the context of the story to figure out who he was and he makes relatively few appearances. In fact, he seemed like a character who should have played a bigger part in the story and was just left out.
The art by Mike Barentine reminds me somewhat of Angus Oblong’s, and really feels like a primetime cartoon. His characters’ facial expressions are particularly human in an exaggerated, cartoon way that makes them more recognizable rather than less. The colorist’s work adds immensely to the cartoon feel, and brings it all together nicely.
Overall, this story is very solid though definitely not for everyone. Those looking for traditional comics (superheroes, westerns, horror, etc) probably just won’t get the story or its subtle humor. And while I don’t know if this is a true one-shot or if there are more (or perhaps, more planned) stories about Jack, I certainly hope so because it would be a shame to let this family off the hook without at least a few more adventures.