SPONGEBOB COMICS ANNUAL-SIZE SUPER-GIANT SWIMTACULAR! #3
[48 pages] [No ads!]
Publisher: United Plankton Pictures
Cover Price: $4.99
Admittedly, I’m not well-versed on Spongebob and his underwater entourage. I’m familiar enough with all of them but never saw a single episode, never sat in the theatre for the two movies, nor have I picked up a single book…until today!! If you want to let your hair down and decompress, this is just the book for you!
“Future Stories” [5 pages, main story followed by a framing sequence]
Story: Derek Drymon // Pencils & Inks: Ramona Fradon // Colors: Jim Campbell // Lettering: Rob Leigh
Pencils Pirate is desperate for new material. He has to release the annual SPONGEBOB SWIMTACULAR and the deadline looms. He is less than satisfied with his two-man writing staff and throws them overboard since they are focusing on the future. He pays a visit to Sea Biddy, a clairvoyant. He gives her some coin as they glimpse into what has yet to happen…
The tropes are true to form. The dialogue is droll. I don’t have much knowledge of the higher-ups at United Plankton Pictures but I’m guessing Pencils bears a resemblance to someone within the halls of the publishing company 😉
Strong to the finish: I can’t help but think of Popeye. Pencils is an aggressive artist!
“Bikini Bottom Wasteland” [12 pages]
Written by: Kaz // Drawn by: Raul the Third // Lettering: Rob Leigh
Business won’t be booming for long if Mr. Krabs can’t replicate his Krabby Patty formula. Spongebob has a solution: he has a time machine!! Instead of simply looking for the precious piece of paper, he instructs Patrick to set the ‘coordinates’. Patrick screws up large by inputting 400 years forward instead of 40 hours back. Bob finds himself in a world where the Squid Warriors run riot and rule over all.
The Yellow Man comes across Patrick’s descendant simply known as Jerk. The starfish mistakes Bob for his future self. Bob is hated by the SW because he makes Kru Cakes. Bob mounts a sea slug to traverse less than twenty feet. *chuckle* Past-Bob meets Future-Bob. They sure love themselves. The SW come to wreak havoc. Bob’s legacy is a tragic one since the Kru Cakes have lost their unique taste. The only reason why the SW frequent the establishment is for the atmosphere. Go figure.
Either way, Past-Bob frets that the recipe is literally gone for all time. All is not lost when the years-ahead Bob spots the recipe at the bottom of old-school Bob’s shoe. The franchise gains a resurgence in popularity. His mission complete, Bob can return home. He freaks out when the time machine has been taken apart. Jerk casually admits that he thought it was an eyesore. He also matter-of-factly shows a variety of time machines, just like the Price is Right showcase ;-P Bob picks up the litter to prevent further damage in the timeline. Squidward gets a job at the Chum Bucket. Eerily, his uniform is the template for the Squid Warriors.
The shading is reflective of the pulp fiction era. The scarlet with the sepia gives the story a grainy feel. It also reflects the tone and mood of the dystopian era before all is set right.
Beyond Plunderdome: This is an obvious riff of the MAD MAX universe.
Meta-observation: “The Universe is a comic book with many panels on every page.” – Jerk Star. Take that, Shakespeare!!
“Future Stories” interlude [1 page]
Pencils is not content with what’s he seen. He wants basic stories told in present tense featuring the walking sponge’s piscine pals. It’ll cost him extra. He is willing to shell over more moolah.
“The Consumer is Always Right” [11 pages]
Story: Derek Drymon // Pencils & Inks: Jacob Chabot // Coloring: Hi-Fi // Lettering: Rob Leigh
In a world full of sameness, Sandy Squirrel realizes that it’s dullsville. The uniformity of making, ordering, consuming, and eating a patty changes when Sandy dares to ask for an extra pickle. She begins to question the motto of the costumer always being correct. Bob and Patrick discuss Sandy’s request. The logic is flawed. Their perspectives become conflicted. Patrick is so upset that he bangs his arm so much until he is blissfully but painfully ignorant. Bob beings a tiny rebellion. He indulges Sandy’s order with the additional item. Big Boss is brought news of the mutinous act. Bob has started a movement!! As different orders are processed, the reports keep coming in. Free thinking and happiness. Perish the thought!! Big Boss addresses the citizens and points out their erroneous ways. He pulls a ‘Clark Kent’ by ripping open his shirt and revealing the ‘right way’ tattooed on his chest. Big Boss’ word is law.
Patrick can’t handle this so he smacks himself silly once again. He transforms all the non-conforming burgers back to normal. Bob won’t stand for it and starts anew. The burger bots are ready to haul him away when Sandy bursts in and takes down the dictator. BB is transformed into his ever-loving product. Plankton carries his prize for experimentation at the Bureau of Chum. The lines begin to form. Bob is working on one massive [literally] order. All the other customers have to wait if they want to savour and appreciate gastronomical pleasure. The natives are restless. Sandy decides that they have to be overthrown as well.
Derek Dymon gets an A+ for adapting this Orwellian tale with a humorous slant. The characters look exactly like their animated counterparts. I’m hankering a burger right now!!
The year of…1984. Look it up. Better yet, read the damn novel.
Capitalism, a Love Story: Far from it!! Poignant parable.
Right is Right except when it’s Wrong then it’s Right again: Confuzzled? Twisted logic!!
That smarts!! Patrick should seek employment elsewhere.
Fromage homage: Sandy poses like Rosie the Riveter
“The Future is WOW!” [2 pages]
Story & Art: James Kochalka // Lettering: Rob Leigh
Patrick is seriously freaking out over the future. Like his descendant Jerk, he’s brainy. Patrick has temporal mechanics down pat. The conversation takes a bizarre turn when Patrick turns himself upside down thinking he’s already years ahead of his time. Sandy tries to calm him down. The weirdness continues with hats on his feet. Somehow, the ‘shoehats’ transform into melting ice cream. Patrick remains upside down but he’s much happier since the future tastes delicious. HUH???
James Kochalka made my head hurt with this one. LOL!! He is a two-man show having illustrated as well. His drawings remind me of Matt Groening’s strip Life is Hell.
Forward thinking: “Yesterday was the past. Now it’s yesterday’s tomorrow. That means THIS IS THE FUTURE!” Is there such a thing as the present??
“Mermaid Man 39,616 A.D.” [10 pages]
Story: Derek Drymon // Pencils & Inks: Hilary Barta // Colors: Jason Millet //
Lettering: Rob Leigh
The super-hero geek in me is clapping hands and smiling ear-to-ear. It’s the (mis)adventures of Aquaman Mermaid Man and Aqualad Barnacle Boy!! MM’s elation of his ‘brilliant communication device’ is interrupted when fish folk from the future materialize. They need his help to fend off an unknown invader. The video archives have chronicled his heroics. His eagerness puts a damper on things when he touches the time-fish. Only he and Soosh-E jump forward to her time. Soosh-E gives MM a much-needed costume upgrade.
He bumbles once more and destroys the Colossa-Puter, a vital machine in determining the identity of the unknown assailant. His fascination with hard water transports allows him to create familiar vehicles from the Distinguished Competition due to the Thought-Enhancer. He tampers with the Salt Men Extruder almost causing complete destruction. The gigantic food grower malfunctions when he programs it to make sea cucumbers, which incidentally, are not veggies. The big reveal is made. The invader in question is…Mermaid Man!! The incompetent adventurer most definitely was the harbinger of doom. Luckily, the once peaceful people quickly recall their violent ways. He escapes a lynching in the nick of time. He tosses the time-fish to the stranded peeps. Case closed. All clear. Barnacle Boy wants to tinker with MM’s invention. The hero decides to collect antiques instead. Much safer hobby.
Wish dish: Soosh-E and 2-Na. C’mon!!
Triple Entente: “Dr. 2-Na, I have brought forth the great hero Mermaid Man from the past to defend us when the unknown invader arrives.” – Soosh-E. It is my belief that the writer is alluding to The Defenders [Marvel], the Challengers of the Unknown [DC] and The Invaders [Marvel].
Turn the page: Barnacle Boy is showing the future fish folk how to read a comic book. It’s titled Super Slug. One of them thinks it requires too much effort.
Numbers game: 39 is possibly 1939, two years before Aquaman was born. Never mind that. 616 is the designation of the main reality of the Marvel Universe. Can UPP dig any further?
“Planet of the Fish” [4 pages]
Story & Art: Jay Lender // Lettering(?): Mike DeVito
Squidward travels into the future with his buddy Larry. He makes it 35,000 light years before awakening from his cryo-sleep. His determination to leave Bikini Bottom was so that he can be his own boss. When he spots his brethren. His joy turns to horror with evil fish people hunting his peeps. Squidward won’t put up with the bullying. He is lured into a vet clinic. The prejudices are poignant on both sides. The fish want to examine his brain. This has Squiddy getting the hell out of dodge. He makes it back to his time but thinks it’s still the future and not a particularly bright one. Turns out he was daydreaming, or was he?!?
Aping is the highest form of flattery: You’d have to be completely clueless to not realize the inspiration behind this tale.
Larry and the clarinet: I’m at a loss the inclusion of this character and the significance of the instrument. Some clarification please!!
Iron(ic) Man: Squiddy exclaims O. Henry! (not the chocolate bar) when he returns. Who dat? The master of irony. It is he who first introduced an ironic twist at the end of a short story. Other authors soon followed his lead. Reading recommendation: Gift of the Magi.
“Future Stories” end of framing sequence [3 pages]
Pencils is ready to kill Sea Biddy with his giant pencil-sword. The old bat saves herself by showing his local comic shop in her crystal ball. The costumers are eating up the futuristic SpongeBob Annual. He makes a new deal with Biddy. He’ll return monthly to peer into her sphere for inspiration. The two writers are alive and well. They were hiding under the crystal ball and will now do Biddy’s bidding. She also mandates a veto on tales of things yet to come.
Anthologies may not be favoured for reviewing due to the various individuals behind the compilation but I for one don’t mind in the least. Talent comes in many forms. Annuals provide a veritable showcase of the hardest working members in the industry. Young and old mesh for jolly good fun. I genuinely had a few good laughs reading this type of fiction. I appreciate the more subtle/adult humour which is something that escaped me as a child watching Looney Tunes. Satire is an effective literary device and method of storytelling. There’s a grain of truth in every joke. Rob Leigh gets a special shout-out for lettering pretty much every single story.
I’m a high school teacher. Coincidentally, yesterday two female students doodled on the board five minutes before the end of class. I let them know that I would be critiquing a book that just so happened to come out tomorrow (how’s that for future casting? ;-P) Here’s what they drew:
There are too many individuals to mention here. I applaud all parties involved in the making of this yearly offering. I give this book 8/10 seashells.