RQW #1, November 2002, Don't Eat Any Bugs Productions
by Ray Friesen
My girlfriend and I went to the Los Angeles Festival of Books at UCLA today, and, still fresh from the Alternative Press Expo, I expected to see some small press comics representation. While I did see some of the alternative book publishing houses I recognized from APE, like AK Press, very few comics played into that equation. In fact, RQW #1 was the only traditional comic book we found, and despite the praise from Golden Apple Comics and Bongo Comics on its back cover, I'd never heard of this title before. The way its creator pitched it, I expected an educational book, and while his storyline has that potential, Friesen emphasizes youth-oriented humor -- which is a nice way of saying this book is really kind of childish. That's not necessarily a bad thing, as I often advocate that comics need to target kids again, if only from the business standpoint of assuring a future financial viability (I started saving coins for comics when I was eleven or so), so RQW may be on to something here. However, as a linear plot, it simply drops the ball. On the surface, this series is about Raymond Q. Wonderfull, nephew of the detective Clark N. Dagger, whose mad scientist neighbor has asked him to deliver a package with some immediacy. With the aid of his cousin, who is prone to serious injury, and a talking penguin, because, as I've said, penguins sell books nowadays, "RQW" (which is a bad title for a book, as casual readers have no association with those letters whatsoever -- "Wonderfull" would have been better if the character's name is that important) experiences an incredible adventure, that, while thrilling, by its own admission makes no sense, incorporating ninjas and killer sharks for just a few panels a piece, with vague humor excusing senseless shock value . . . again, intended for kids, I presume. RQW actually has the makings of a promising franchise, buts its number one makes for a mildly amusing read at best. Then again, for a comic book at a big time book fair, fundamental might have been the way to go . . .
Addendum (added April 30, 2007): Although I haven't updated reviews following their initial post in the past, after browsing the Don't Eat Any Bugs website (linked above), I feel compelled to mention that Friensen's art work on-line is sharp, and his storytelling style is a bit more clever than RQW #1 conveyed. I assume his skills have been sharpened since that flagship issue, and since I purchased his book to support my small press brethren in the first place, I'd be remiss not to give him some props. This web-strip thing deserves some further examination . . .