“Bob’s Burgers” is one of the most dependably weird and hilarious shows on television. It has a unique voice and quirks that work through a combination of writing and performance. Taking one of those elements away from the alchemy of something this strange could upset the balance of the product, but thankfully that’s not the case in the first issue of Dynamite’s adaptation by a massive creative team. In fact, the writing on the book is so solid that I was able to hear each character clear as day as I laughed through the entire issue.
Bringing in people that already work on the show definitely creates a continuity of voice from screen to page. Staff writer Mike Olsen brings us a story from Tina’s Erotic Friend Fiction notebook about what it’s like to be a talking horse in a world full of people, and the magical day where Tina is called upon to help save the world. Olsen nails Tina’s voice — innocent, burgeoning on the cusp of sexual discovery and completely awkward. There are great scenes like Tina trying to navigate the halls of high school, fumbling a dramatic arrival during the climactic battle with Xander and her eventual return as the conquering hero, confident in her new abilities and the chance to impress the new horse in school. The jokes are all perfectly offbeat and feel at home in this world. The art here and throughout the entire issue maintains the visual style of the show so much so that it looks like we’re looking at finished storyboards. The panels are large and full of color and visual information.
Production coordinator and sketch comedian Rachel Hastings brings us a Louise story well suited to her paranoia and general attraction to chaos. It’s school picture day and after watching several kids be zonked by the bright flash of the camera bulbs Louise convinces herself that the school photographer is either controlling people’s minds or brainwashing them. It’s all well-played and the panel layout contributes to the increasingly trapped and threatened feelings Louise creates in her mind. Plenty of great character moments for her throughout, like refusing to have her picture taken because she had it done once so she’s fine. It ends how you’d think it would end for her, broken equipment and upset bystanders and all.
The final story by comedy writer Jeff Drake plays into the musical spirit of the show, presenting a tale of Gene trapped in a burger costume and becoming a Frosty-like figure for his sisters. While the lyrics are fun and one can easily see how this would play out on the show, a bit is lost from the lack of music. I liked it, but the entire time I was left wanting, dying to know what type of great score could have been put behind the dialogue. Gene’s meatamorphasis (yes, I wrote that) is great fodder for this kind of tale and I felt like this story was only half of what could have been, like listening to a radio play where people continually experience things via the other four senses that aren’t hearing. The half that we get is incredibly fun though.
I understand the want to jump directly in to stories about the kids, since they are easily the breakout characters of the show, but I would like to see more of Bob and Linda in the next issues. Aside from their one page gag pieces, each is relegated to minimal supporting stature in these tales. Other than that, it’s a great start to this series.