Hey !!! Kids Webcomics: Bloody Cardinal and Cucumber Quest edition

by John Holbo on January 21, 2018

Yeah, I know, the free stuff is what you want. So here you go.

Richard Sala is serializing The Bloody Cardinal 2: House of the Blue Dwarf. Sala is a total treasure. He brings macabre whimsy and nostalgia for a kind of low budget horror flick you wish used to exist but no longer does – but actually just plain never existed – to a pitch of perfection. Who wouldn’t want to meet this cast of characters?

If you buy the book, you get a G.K. Chesterton Man Who Was Thursday epigraph. Which is perfect. The Cardinal is a G.K. Chesterton character, if Chesterton were an atheist. But keep everything else the same! And directed by Hammer.

Sala has got a lot of stuff out there for you to delectate, and a lot of it is available on Comixology Unlimited (although the Bloody Cardinal is not). Comixology Unlimited is a Netflix-style read-all-you-want subscription service. It’s a good deal and if you ever want to just gorge on comics for a month and cancel after that – well, who am I to judge your freaky lifestyle? (Maybe you are going through a rough patch or just broke up with someone and reading a lot of Richard Sala is helping you process a lot of heavy stuff. Or maybe you are like a bear, eating a lot of salmon then sleeping through winter. Only the salmon is comics. There are lots of possibilities.)

My favorite Richard Sala is probably …. The Hidden. But for sheer incomprehensibility, The Chuckling Whatsit is very hard to beat.

Sala is not going to be for everyone. But here’s an all-ages title that I believe nearly everyone will love. Cucumber Quest! It’s been running since 2011. Volume 1 is out in paperback. But online we are just starting Chapter 5, page 860-something. The description says it’s about a bunch of bunny kids having adventures, which is true. But really it’s an absolutely brilliant, epic parody of the chosen-one-quest trope. It’s immediately obvious this is what it is. It’s got the standard mash-up formula for that. The Hero’s Journey meets Slice Of Life. The characters are central casting archetypes to get you round that Joseph Campbell wheel of fate. But also they are kids/ contemporary teens, just also bunnies, and there’s banter and small lovable back-and-forth that goes with. Just because they have to save the world doesn’t mean they aren’t obsessing over pop culture nonsense. That’s what makes Scott Pilgrim so great, after all. Scott is on a quest to win his true love. But he’s also an idiot 24-year old arrested development case with a bad memory. This is what makes Adventure Time great and Steven Universe great. Epic fantasy, but everyone acts like a kid. (Really Buffy The Vampire Slayer was first, of course.)

This is a very good formula when done competently. But Cucumber Quest is better than that. It’s up there with Scott Pilgrim. When you finally realize really what is going on – I think that’s around page 500-something – you appreciate the true genius of the whole plan. It isn’t just a lot of good jokes, although it is a lot of good jokes. Also, the color is just amazing.

Here is the cover for Chapter 4.

You will probably look at it and say: seriously, this author – Gigi D.G. (not a real name, I’m guessing) – is riding the whole Steven Universe thing pretty hard. But it’s the opposite. Cucumber Quest had a character named Peridot before Steven Universe, and the Mary Blair palette and anime-inspired style has unquestionably been a big influence on Rebecca Sugar. (You don’t watch Steven Universe? You should!)