Friday, 20 September 2013

The Glorkian Warrior Delivers A Pizza! by James Kochalka Review

James Kochalka is an absolutely brilliant artist. I’ve been reading his work for years having been introduced to it via his online daily diary strip, American Elf, (which he unfortunately discontinued after 31 December 2011) where he recorded his day-to-day existence in one to four panels, drawing himself and his wife Amy with elf-ears. He’s written and performed some amazing music with his band James Kochalka Superstar and as a solo artist, releasing several records, but my favourite is his record, Spread Your Evil Wings And Fly,  which contains some really great pop songs like “Britney’s Silver Can” (the chorus of which is simply “Justin Timberlake” over and over), Why Is The Sky Blue? and the title track.
He’s also a really prolific artist who has written and drawn numerous other comics besides American Elf like Pinky & Stinky, a comedy about two spacefaring pigs, Monkey Vs Robot, a silent deathmatch style comic between a monkey and a robot (which also spawned a sequel), and the hilariously expletive-filled superhero parody-turned-internet cartoon, Superf*ckers (google the Superf*ckers theme song for a catchy burst of sweary pop, which Kochalka also wrote and performed).
In recent years Kochalka’s turned primarily to comics for young readers producing his hit series of Johnny Boo books, Dragon Puncher (incorporating photos of his children and cat into the comic), and, most recently, Glorkian Warrior Delivers A Pizza.

Glorkian Warrior is a computer game character he came up with along with some game developers a while back for a retro platform game and here he is in his very own book. Glorkian Warrior is a cheerfully idiotic alien with a talking backpack who’s his best friend and can shoot lasers. Together they spend over 100 pages trying to deliver a pizza, despite not offering a pizza delivery service. If that premise seems flimsy, you haven’t read Kochalka before. He can turn a minimal concept like pizza delivery into a completely engaging, adventure-filled story that’s enormously fun to read and features some of the most colourful and attractive art any comics reader could wish for.
One of the best things I love about this book, and really every James Kochalka book I’ve read, is how effortlessly easy he makes writing and drawing comics seem. His storytelling has this beautiful flowing quality to it that just radiates creativity. Glorkian Warrior and his backpack bounce happily from one situation to the next with Kochalka able to take anything that comes their way from fighting a monster to feeling lost to reacting to weather, and weave it masterfully into a narrative that never once bores, loses its momentum or feels contrived and out of place.
Tonally, Kochalka’s gentle humour and characterisation is appropriate for young children to read and enjoy but I’d recommend it to adult readers as well who simply love well-crafted comics, and Glorkian Warrior really is a well-made book. As enjoyable as the story is, the Twilight Zone-esque ending is so brilliantly conceived that it brings the chaotic book together into one cohesive whole. It’s a really inspired finish that belies the overly-simple beginning with Glorkian Warrior lying on his couch staring at his feet.
As much as I miss American Elf, its absence is easier to take so long as James Kochalka keeps making comics, especially books like this. Glorkian Warrior is a gloriously entertaining and fun comic by an artist at the peak of his craft.

The Glorkian Warrior Delivers a Pizza

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