Well, it’s been a long time coming, but one of Europe’s most famous characters has made it into English. On the continent he’s Gaston Lagaffe, but in the 1990s he had a brief American reprint as Gomer Goof, and this is what Cinebook have stuck with going forward. (He also had a minor appearence as Cranky Franky in the Thunderbirds Annual too.) Created by André Franquin, the strips in the first volume are in a brief half page format, quickly setting up and punching out a gag much like the format of Sunday strip. As for Gomer himself, he’s the office junior at Spirou magazine, so there are lots of office-based jokes, but essentially he’s a lazy so-and-so who gets things wrong and creates various blunders in his wake.
Franquin is an incredible cartoonist, so much of Gomer/Gaston’s success is down to his amazing sense of humour, and his use of pantomime and visual comedy. There are plenty of supporting characters, not least Spirou and Fantasio, but you don’t need to have any back story to understand what’s going on and each half page is self-contained.
Gomer’s portrayed as an innocent, almost a simpleton, so it’s easy to get on side with him, whether he’s trying to crack a walnut with a jackhammer or putting in a demand for overtime because the time spent setting up April Fool’s pranks. Each panel is, of course, drawn to perfection as Franquin effortlessly shows us how it’s done.
I’ve been hoping we’d get these in English for some time now, so I for one am delighted this first book is here, and I certainly wasn’t disappointed, nor do I think you will be. If you’ve an interest in cartoons and cartooning then this book should be on your shopping list (or Christmas or birthday list). To miss out would be a major goof.
And if you liked that: Volume 2 is on its way soon!