Spookids Part One – Brain Hat by Marc Jackson published by Weirdo Comics
Would you let your friend attach your brain to an experimental machine which reads your thoughts and turns them into real life stuff? Not sure that would be a great idea in my case, although I can see the positive side. In Spookids that is exactly what Bud does for his eccentric inventor friend Eric.
Now Bud likes crazy comics (don’t we all) and what comes out of his brain is…well, nothing. It seems that the experiment failed. But then there are news reports of strange happenings in the woods. Joined by their pal Nellie they set off to see what might be lurking there.
Spookids is set in 1985, and Stranger Things will help younger readers get their bearings in the unimaginably far flung days before Android updates and Uber-Eats. It is the age of The Golden Girls, ET, D&D and other staples of suburban Americana.
When reading British kids comics it is difficult not to reference the classics. The Beano, The Beezer, Whizzer and Chips – all massively successful British comics of the past few decades. Spookids is certainly closer to The Beano than it is to 2000 A.D. And some of the goofy faces would not be out of place on Bash Street – indeed Marc has worked on the Beano.
But U.S. comics seems to be a closer relative. Peter Bagge’s Hate featuring Buddy Bradley with his entertaining and sometimes poignant portrayal of suburban life is lurking somewhere in the back of this strip as well as a dash of The Simpsons.
Calm down, Bud! Sometimes scientific progress goes Wonk!Eric, Spookids
Another, more acknowledged influence, seems to be Bill Watterson’s Calvin and Hobbes. Probably one of the greatest comics produced in the Twentieth Century Calvin and Hobbes perfectly captured the joys and frustrations of childhood and encapsulated a certain kind of American small town life. There certainly seems to be something to find in the Watterson Woods.
The colouring of Spookids is very striking. Panels are filtered in cyan and peach tones which give a bit of an ‘Eighties take on the Fifties’ vibe. This works well to break up the page and also to shift focus from one character to another.
Kids who are fans of Bunny vs Monkey or Calvin and Hobbes should get a kick out of Spookids. Spookids does what I think all kids comics should do, it turns everything up to eleven (hmm, Stranger Things meets Spinal Tap.) It has the energy of a kid who ate three bowls of Chocolate Frosted Sugar Bombs before twitchily watching Saturday morning cartoons. I’ll be interested to see what Marc Jackson does next with the strip and to find out just what is lurking in the woods.
You can find Marc on Twitter.