September 20, 2016

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All-Ages or Small-Ages #25 (Bee and Puppycat Volume 1 by Natasha Allegri, Garrett Jackson and Patrick Seery)



See all of the past entries of All-Ages or Small-Ages here.

There are a wide array of all-ages comics out there from the classic Archie comics, through the  Sonic the Hedgehog and Disney, all the way to the original properties such as Lumberjanes. You might look at one of these books and think that, as an adult, it doesn’t have much to offer you. As someone who has discovered a deep fondness for titles such as this, I’ve been surprised by how rich and complex the stories can be. All-Ages or Small-Ages? is a feature that takes a look at the books that fall under this banner and attempts to analyse whether or not their assigned label is apt; is it a book that you can read along with your children?

Bee and Puppycat is a fan-favourite web series that received a legendary amount of funding from its supporters on Kickstarter back in 2013 and was subsequently picked up as a comic series by Boom! Studios in 2014. It follows the titular Bee, a young woman living on her own, and her magical pet dog/cat hybrid, Puppycat, as they attempt to blunder their way through the uncertainty of adult life. The duo head to other dimensions and meet fantastical creatures, all in an effort to avoid the responsibility of the real world.


This is a concept that unequivocally feels like it's best suited to animation, making its original source feel a lot more appropriate than this comic. It has an inherent episodic component to it that, when coupled with Allegri's original style, invokes a very specific genre of television. This first volume contains an array of various stories in this vein, jumping from a single-page gag to a ten page story chronicling an entire adventure. The wide array of creators on this book keep each entry feeling both fresh and consistently engaging for people of all dispositions.

Where this volume begins to fall down is the subsequent richness of each individual story. It’s a storytelling format where nothing is truly different at the end, where you’re along for the journey and nothing else; you’re here because you love these characters. Presumably due to the fact that this was a comic that was picked up due to its established fanbase, it’s a comic that assumes that you already know who these characters are. 

Heading into this world as a new reader, while a large proportion of the information can be gleaned from context, some plot elements are simply not explained before they get used. This makes the book ideal for dropping new young readers into, but leaves older readers feeling as though they need to spend time catching up before being able to dive into these characters. A first volume should be able to stand on its own merits and not rely on its already existing popularity.


Admittedly, this volume does take the magical girl genre into some pretty interesting directions. Primed for the quick cuts back and forth between scenes, it uses Puppycat’s magical abilities and Bee’s corresponding enthusiasm to marvelous effect. We’re taken through various worlds and see many different creatures, all the while keeping the focus firmly on the character’s home life. Bee is affable and grounded in a way that many characters in this genre are not, making you immediately interested in finding out more about her.

Unfortunately, this is undermined significantly by the flatness of both of the titular protagonists. Both of them have a distinct and well-defined personality, but it’s very one-note. Not every character has to be fully-rounded and have a complex backstory, but to sustain interest in an ongoing story in a serial format, it’s important to ensure that these characters can still surprise you. Once you’ve read the first two pages of this volume, you immediately know how they’re subsequently going to react in every situation.

This is a book that was definitively made for the fans and, honestly, that’s entirely fine. There are a few brief flashes of unadulterated hilarity, but a large proportion of the enjoyment seemed to hinge on an already established connection to these characters and this universe as a whole. Do buy this for your kids though; they’ll get a huge kick out of the silliness and it has absolutely fantastic representation in its main lead. Otherwise, only buy it if you already love the web series. If I’d watched it, I’d probably be telling you to go and watch that instead.

Let me know if there's a comic that you think I should be checking out. I'm always on the look-out for some more hidden All-Ages gold. Contact me at mark@thegreengorcrow.com or head over to check out the podcast that I co-host You Know What I Like...? on SoundCloud.