All Weather Volume 2 of the Zak Meadow Collection
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All Weather Volume 2 of the Zak Meadow Collection (c) Marc Ngui
All Weather Volume 2 of the Zak Meadow Collection © Marc Ngui

All Weather Volume 2 of the Zak Meadow Collection:
Marc Ngui


All-Weather is a handsome and hefty booklet filled with strong cartooning that is backed up by muscular and dynamic inking. The penmanship on display is excellent with an elegant style and an eye for shape.
All of which has left me with a terrible problem: why do I hate it so much? I suppose it simply has to be the writing as I really do find it difficult to fault the art.
So what's wrong? Well a writer-artist for a start. Some people are equally gifted with both words and pictures; some are equally experienced in both. Everyone else really needs to focus on what they are good at and get help in for the rest.
Kid Ugly, the main character in the book, occupies a tediously twee and semi-surreal world of light-hearted humour. With his wacky friends he... he... does nothing. Nothing really happens in any of stories. This might be okay if the individual strips were funny but sadly they aren't.
I can see that they are perhaps meant to be funny but the sudden twists of logic come out as simply limp or desperate and the wordplay is as light and witty as punk stomping around in a pair of DMs.
As an example I offer Potato Paternity, the story starts with two of the characters arguing over a potato patch. The first character is digging up the potatoes when the second, Mo Vet, comes over to stop him as he claims to have a patent on the potatoes. The potatoes have been genetically modified with Mo's DNA. The first character then claims that the potatoes actually have his DNA. I may have made this sound funnier than it actually is. Kid Ugly then turns up as the pair prepare to fight and suggests a genetic test to discover the truth. The result reveals that the potato has Mo's DNA and that of a three-legged goat. Mo then decides that he doesn't want the potato and it ends up in a basket at an orphanage for abandoned root vegetables run by a nun.
Now the jokes are meant to be the character claiming that their DNA is in the potato when they really thought the potato was ordinary, the revelation of the goat and the nunnery. All are sight gags with no attempt to link the written punchline with the visual image. All are "surrealism lite" in that they are meant to suddenly skew the reader's perceptions of what is going on but there is no real attempt to dislocate the reader. For example there are four wasted panels where the characters play badminton while waiting for the results of the gene test. If the joke is the implication that Mo Vet has been fucking a goat then the timing could have been a bit sharper. Then finally we have the potato transformed into a child by leaving it on a doorstop. The nun coos over the potato and the author even adds a "Ha!" to the bottom of the panel to remind you what is happening. The trouble is that it just doesn't work. Having a potato suddenly take on the properties of a person is classic comics' surrealism. Inanimate objects in cartoons and comics can suddenly talk or grow legs and run about - nothing is fixed. To make it funny or surreal however you need to make the transition both sudden and convincing and that simply doesn't happen here.
Timing, panel layout and dialogue are the three big problems here and it seems to me that Marc Ngui should concentrate on the art and find someone who he can communicate his vision to and let them work on the scripts and the layout. At the moment Zak Meadow is beautiful but extremely shallow.
Robert Rees

All Weather Volume 2 of the Zak Meadow Collection: 64 21x17cm pages. Price: not noted:
Address: not noted; mail marc
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