Page 45 Review by Stephen
"IT'S COMING OUT OF MY BUM!!"
The role of any decent pull quote is to evoke the distilled essence of what lies within. Sometimes it's possible to peel back the complex layers of a carefully crafted collection of comics and also strike at its sophisticated thematic core. So let's hear that again.
"IT'S COMING OUT OF MY BUM!!"
Torn from the pages of the PHOENIX COMIC WEEKLY, Jamie Smarts LOOSHKIN stars a bright blue cat terrorizing its family household, their neighbours, their visiting relatives and any odd-ball expert foolish enough to step through their doors.
The creator of FISH HEAD STEVE and BUNNY VS MONKEY knows exactly what makes kids gurgle with over-excitable, uncontainable, mad-screaming glee and that's this: fart jokes, toilet references, appalling misbehaviour, unbridled chaos and the most massive collateral damage while raging round a home shouting stupid strings of silly-sounding syllables!
Here's Looshkin terrorising all and sundry with a frying pan and a few choice words:
"OFFICER DIBBLES! SERGEANT PLOP-PLOPS!
Knock-out, smack-down CLANG!
The timing - both verbal and visual - is neither random nor irrelevant to the comedy. It may be instinctive to Smart, but a simple string of words isn't enough for the anarchy to hit home with maximum skillet-smacking impact. In the last two panels there, Looshkin launches himself back over the arch of a green settee to position himself behind a beleaguered Bear whose default setting throughout these 64 pages is wailing, wide-mouthed terror.
On the subject of timing, the immediate family find themselves on the receiving end of a visit / inspection from perpetually scowling Great Auntie Frank who could have easily stropped her way from a Giles cartoon. All the fun of the riotous fare which follows is anticipated with exceptional economy in the first three panels:
"Ah, Great (rich) Auntie Frank! I'm so glad you could come around for a morning coffee!"
"Hmph! I HEAR you have recently purchased a CAT."
"Well, nothing. You keep it away from us. My prize-winning poodle PRINCESS TRIXIBELL has a very delicate constitution. The slightest fright, and her fur begins to fall out."
"Uh. Oh..." murmurs Mum in a tiny inset panel to herself. Uh-oh indeed.
Prize-winning, pampered poodle Princess Trixibell is presented to the readers on a gold-tasselled burgundy velvet cushion, a shivering, shaking big bag of nerves. Even though nothing has yet happened, it is almost impossible not to start chuckling immediately at the oh-so inevitable which Jamie is smart enough to leave for three more pages because anticipation is everything, and instead of dropping a single water balloon on Boris Johnsons head, it would be much, much funnier to build up a supply of two dozen water balloons, fill them to bursting point then carry them all five storeys further up (and giggling while doing so) before launching the entire barrage down at once. Which is, metaphorically, what happens. AGAIN! AGAIN! bellows Looshkin.
Utterly oblivious and determinedly in denial, Looshkin doesn't just refuse to take responsibility for his actions and their consequences, he refuses to acknowledge that his actions have any consequences that can't be considered tip-top results! There's a terrific running gag involving "Dial-A-Pig" because cats clearly have access to mobile phones, but for once Looshkin opts for something a little more esoteric:
"Ding Dong! Delivery! Here's that baby shark you ordered."
He's holding it, out of water, in his bare hands.
"Looshkin, did you order a SHARK?"
"It's NOT a shark! It's an OTTER!"
Is it that Looshkin believes he can change the truth by sheer force of will?
"You'd better not be running through my house with a shark!"
"Well, okay then."
Or is it that he simply doesn't know the difference? Here's the son:
"Whatever you think it is, what on earth are you planning to do with it?"
"All the things that otters are known to love doing!"
The genius of what follows is that neither a shark nor an otter are known to love dodgems, thick, creamy milkshakes or dressing up like Santa Claus half as much as Looshkin does. He looks particular fine in full Father Christmas ensemble and a winter-white beard.
"But it's July!"
"Hey! You can't argue with nature!"
Looshkin cannot help himself and will not be stopped. He is loud, irrepressible and insatiable. Hes the ultimate child running wild, craving action, adventure and brand-new experiences preferably dangerous. Already bursting with manic energy, you certainly dont want him gobbling down fistfuls of delicious, brightly coloured, sugar-coated cereal. Unfortunately the family calls in an expert called Professor Lionel F. Frumples who is determined to understand their cat by giving Looshkin exactly what he wants. What Looshkin really, really wants is fistfuls of delicious, brightly coloured, sugar-coated cereal.
"This is a bad idea. Looshkin doesn't handle sugar very well at all!"
"SILENCE! Who is more likely to know about your cat? You, with your cat? Or me, with my beard?"
He holds up one finger with authority.
"It is ME."
In the original format of the first LOOSHKIN book Professor Lionel F. Frumples wrote himself a résumé which I don't think has made it through to this new edition. Fear not, for I have rescued its most pertinent points:
"Cats! What are cats?
"Cats are cats.
"Zat is right, I'm an expert at cats.
"I am brilliant at cats. BRILLIANT at zem.
"I understand everything about cats. If you told me you were a cat, I'd INSTANTLY know you were lying. I don't recognise your scent. Get out of my office."