‘Bee and Puppycat’ has potential to create new comic book readers

3817592-01aBee and Puppycat #1-2
Written by Natasha Allegri and Garrett Jackson
Illustrated by Natasha Allegri (with additional colours by Patrick Seery)
Published by Kaboom!

Bee and Puppycat is undoubtedly unusual and also utterly unique, which is a little surprising considering it wears it influences on its sleeve. The brain child of Natasha Allegri, Bee and Puppycat owes a lot to the shojo and magical girl genres of manga and anime, particularly Sailor Moon, with a side helping of influence from shows like Powerpuff Girls. It also takes after the animated creations by Allegri’s peers: Adventure Time, Bravest Warriors, and Steven Universe. A Venn diagram illustrating the overlapping fanbases of these four properties might as well just be a single circle.

Natashi Allegri is a storyboard artist and writer on the Adventure Time TV series, and she’s even the creator of the Fionna and Cake characters (she also wrote the fantastic six-issue Fiona and Cake miniseries from last year). Bee and Puppycat got its start on the YouTube channel Cartoon Hangover (also the home of Bravest Warriors) as two five-minute episodes. Its immediate popularity led to a Kickstarter, where they procured more than enough funds to create an entire season’s length of episodes. The wait for new episodes is still ongoing, but this comic is here to satisfy our cravings in the meantime.

The series follows Bee, an all-too-relatable girl in her twenties whose life is lacking direction and also has trouble keeping a job. Everything changes when a magical puppy-cat hybrid (puppy + cat = puppycat!) stumbles into her life. Puppycat comes from another dimension called Fishbowl Space, and he and Bee are able to hop realities to go there, where Puppycat has a job as a temp worker. The duo take on bizarre odd jobs to pay the rent back on Earth. This is explained in the series premiere Youtube episodes, with #1 jumping straight into a story.

Bee and Puppycat is all-ages friendly, and would even make a splendid first-comic-reading-experience for any girl who is old enough to read. The narrative is simple and sweet, there is minimal dialogue, mainly relying on the images to tell the story. Panels are huge, typically ranging 2-5 each page, and the text itself is also very large. It’s a very relaxing comic, that doesn’t so much tell a narrative as it does let its reader hang out with a girl and her magical space pet. There is a clear emphasis on artwork, which is sugar-y sweet in the all the right ways, with a colour palette not unlike the Land of Ooo’s Candy Kingdom, but with a lot more soft pinks and purples. Even if a child is still too young to read, show them this book anyway, read it with them, and they’ll enjoy themselves. It’s visual storytelling at its best.

Bee-and-PuppyCat_01_pg02_colorsAn adult reader might not feel they are getting their money’s worth with these issues. Nowadays, comics are a big investment, and $3.99 is a lot to ask for, per issue. Truth be told, the lack of dialogue/text in these issues combined with fewer-than-normal panels mean each issue could probably be read in around two minutes. Adults who enjoy the aesthetics of Sailor Moon and Adventure Time would probably really enjoy this comic, though. It’s one of the prettiest looking books on the stands today (for those who like the visual qualities of those before-mentioned shows), and also one of the most interesting looking. There hasn’t been a comic that’s looked like this since Allegri’s Fionna and Cake mini last year.

Bee and Puppycat is not for everybody, and there’s nothing wrong with that. It knows its audience well, and it delivers with flying candy coated colours. This is a comic by a girl, for girls. The fact that it’s so unapologetically girly is refreshing, because there are so few comics like this, today. And that only a minimal reading level is required to read this book is also a significantly good thing. If Bee and Puppycat has gotten at least one young girl into the exciting world of comics, it’s done its job.

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