Ok, hear me out. What I’m about to tell you may sound nuts, but I’m totally serious and sincere when I say it:
You need to buy and read The Flintstones: Volume 1 from DC Comics as soon as possible. I want to talk to you about it the next time I see you. Get it from your local comic shop. Get it from Amazon. Get a print copy. If you must, get a digital copy. Just get it.
DC has partnered with Hanna-Barbera to create a whole line of Hanna-Barbera Universe comics. Titles in the series include, new Jonny Quest stories, Space Ghost/Green Lantern crossovers, and a post-apocalyptic re-imaging of Scooby Doo –which must have been inspired by Travis Pitts’ classic Threadless t-shirt design, “We’ve got some work to do now.” But I don’t know anything about those other titles. I haven’t read them. I don’t know if you should read them. I flipped through Scooby Apocalypse at Pulp Fiction Comics and put it down when I saw the hipster interpretation of Shaggy. I may come back to it at some point, but I can’t recommend it right now.
But The Flintstones is another matter. On a recent visit to Santa Cruz, Lori Matsumoto handed me the trade paperback and said “Here, this is for you. It’s amazing. Just read it.”
I did and she was right.
The writing is stellar. This is sharp social satire. Mark Russell creates and presents compelling plots, and the stories each stand alone, but are connected and build on one another. Russell’s dialog is great. The funny bits are funny and the somber bits are somber. And there are somber bits…in this Flintstones reboot comic! I’ve never read Mark Russel’s other comics or books, but I just ordered Prez and God Is Disappointed in You. If The Flintstones is any indication of his talent, I don’t expect to be disappointed.
Steve Pugh’s artwork is great, and the style is perfect for the tone. I hate that I have to say this, but the composition and draftsmanship are clear. Characters are consistently on-model, too. And sadly, that is not always the case with current comics.
Both the art and the writing strike just the right balance of respect/love for the source material and deft use of it to tell new stories that resonate with 21st century readers. It’s still Fred and Barney, but they are more like us than they used to be.
I’m not going to even mention the contemporary issues that The Flintstones tackles. You need to be surprised and delighted as you read. The Flintstones shares a kinship with ABC’s prehistoric comedy, Dinosaurs, which also used a fictional comedy past to comment on the not-so-funny present. There is also some connective tissue between The Flintstones and the hard-to-find “Flintstones on the Rocks” short and John Kricfalusi’s Yogi Bear and Jetsons shorts. But whereas those loving reboots were frenetic and manic, The Flintstones comic is thoughtful and introspective.
There is genuine existential angst in this comic. And it’s beautiful and thought-provoking and funny. A scene between a bowling ball and a vacuum cleaner almost made me cry.
Just…just go buy it and read it so we can talk about it.