Our Gang

Walt Kelly, Author . Fantagraphics $12.95 (104p) ISBN 978-1-56097-753-7

Who knew there was a comic book based on Our Gang (aka The Little Rascals ), the long-running series of short films featuring those lovable urban scamps, Mickey, Buckwheat and Spanky? And by Kelly, the man responsible for Pogo , no less. This is a sweet, idiosyncratic collection of comics dating from 1942–1943. Kelly, then a young animator and fledgling comic book artist, was given the job of bringing these icons to life on the comic book page; while it took him a few issues to find his groove, he eventually rendered the gang in his own eloquent visual style. As in all of his work, Kelly's characters are gently nuanced, his lively brush strokes giving them an unvarnished realism that jibes perfectly with their cartoonish surroundings. Kelly makes the characters his own—these comics never feel like adaptations. In these issues, the gang embark on their usual adventures, including making a circus, foiling a crime caper or two and even visiting a movie set. These comics are suitable for nostalgic adults and adventurous kids alike, though Buckwheat's unfortunate but contemporary racist rendering might require some explanation. But all in all, it's an exuberant and transportive collection. (June)

Reviewed on: 06/05/2006
Release date: 06/01/2006
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