I’ve been an avid fan of Wallace’s cheese-loving ways and Gromit’s obvious superior intellect since we were first able to get “The Wrong Trousers,” “A Grand Day Out,” and “A Close Shave” on DVD. I was introduced to them by my mom, who adored them from the start. She still routinely exclaims, “Cheese, Gromit!” when applicable. And though there have been Wallace & Gromit movies and other wonderful productions from Aardman Animations, to me, nothing quite matches the ridiculousness and British wit as those first three shows.
Still, when I got the chance to read and review Wallace & Gromit: The Complete Newspaper Comic Strips Collection, I jumped at the chance. More wit and cleverness from the mind that produced Shaun the Sheep (whose show is a spin-off of the “A Close Shave” episode)? Count me in. The book is put out by Titan Comics (in England), and the strips are actually written by a team of writers. The strips were first run in The Sun newspaper, and each of the concepts was first OK’d by Aardman beforehand. Nick Park also wrote the Foreword to the book, but didn’t write the strips.
Now gathered into Volume 1, this book covers the Wallace & Gromit strips that ran from 2010-2011. For people who don’t live in England and can’t get the daily strip in The Sun, this is fantastic. Since the world of Wallace & Gromit is pretty sophisticated, though, each strip doesn’t tell a complete story, though it stands fine on its own. Each week has a story arc, so each spread of pages tells a week’s worth (well, six days) of story, with its own title.
Every few pages, there is a spread with a photograph from one of the original Wallace & Gromit claymations to remind you of the origins, and every strip has a number to help you keep your place.
How do the strips compare to the animated shorts and movies?
Gromit stays silent, and maintains his long-suffering attitude and very expressive facial expressions. Wallace is always inventing unnecessary things. There are many references to cheese. So generally, things are pretty much the same. Except that there are quite a few more puns than I remember in any of the animations. And in case you miss them, they are set in bold. The humor relies on puns a bit too much for my taste, but the strips are generally funny. Since there needs to be a punchline in each strip, though, Wallace ends up in a lot more trouble more quickly than in the animations.
What’s my final assessment? If you’re a die-hard Wallace & Gromit fan, these are not to be missed. More stories set in the world of 62 West Wallaby Street? Sign me up. But if you’re only a very minor fan, or you don’t like puns much, the book may not be what you’re looking for. The comic strips are missing some of the wit of the originals, but they are generally faithful.
Wallace & Gromit: The Complete Newspaper Comic Strips Collection is about $11 on Amazon, which is a good price for a year’s worth of comic strips from England, and a great way to be a completionist when it comes to consuming everything that is Wallace & Gromit.
Note: I received a copy of this book for review purposes.