TODD THE UGLIEST KID ON EARTH VOLUME 1
Writer: Ken Kristensen
Art: M.K. Perker
Reviewer: Rob Patey (aka Optimous Douche – Ain’t It Cool News)
Satirical horror isn’t a new genre, but I’ll say that Perker & Kristensen have positioned themselves as the new masters of uncomfortable and downright dark guffaws.
Regular readers know that my soul is a dark abyss of re-re jokes and laughs at the expense of others. The one thing I often forget though is to let my moral base shine through. In those reviews where I hide my humanity, the fervor I stir is warranted. TODD THE UGLIEST KID ON EARTH would suffer the same fate of public ire as the supporting cast confuses Asian nationalities, regresses to Bush era Republicanism and revels in the flaws of others if not for one simple thing: Todd, the ugliest kid on earth. Because while Todd’s outer visage is a reminder why most animals eat their less than genetically favorable young, it’s also a cautionary tale of the human spirit triumphing over a stacked deck of inborn adversity.
Todd’s message would be a bludgeoned cliché if not for the honesty and originality in which this team clubs the baby seal of life. In a world of ridiculous and horrific people, Todd’s ugly on the outside, beautiful on the inside being keeps this book terrific instead of a trope. I stayed away from this paper bag headed unknown comedian harken back because I simply didn’t know what to make of the title from the cover. I thought it would be another slice o’ life book that seems to permeate the pet project circuit. I was wrong – so fucking wrong. TODD is a slice o’ life, but it’s utterly fantastical enough to live in the world of comics.
Volume 1. follows the first arc of Todd and the freakshows that drive his eternal optimism and can-do attitude. Todd is appropriately never in on the joke, much like Mr. Magoo. While Magoo suffered from literal blindness, Todd is blinded to how terrible a place the world is. This ability to mire in filth yet allow Todd to take another meaning from his parents, the school bully and the psycho beheading children in town shows an adept use of the English language on the part of Kristensen. Not puns per say, more a rude subtlety to all jabs.
The plot of this first volume is simple, yet woven together intricately. The connective thread is a Ken doll banging Barbie doggie style after the town bully glues their hermaphroditic bits together. Once Todd is framed for this deed, it’s easy to pin the murder of a little girl whose nationality is never quite articulated correctly. She’s Korean, but in the world of Todd she’s also every other form of Asian country when being talked to by the town folks. From this one event, we get a series of mishaps that ultimately lead to Todd being put on death row. The logic is actually there on how A+B=C and it always comes back to those sticky crotched dolls.
While Todd is our moral beacon and narrator it’s really the ancillary characters that make this world shine…or tarnish depending on the depths of your depravity. The reason is that Kristensen and Perker pulled no punches in pummeling typical American stereotypes. It also helps they flushed out rich back stories for everyone. Todd’s Dad is an armchair activist, believing and following the latest TV fads of the moment. From Bush Republicans on FOX news, to a rabid interest in celebrity, Todd’s Dad is that person we all hate at parties who tries to talk philosophical after watching 10 minutes of a subject on TV. Todd’s Mom is a woman who placed all of her value on her looks. As she approaches the wall of thirty she’s realizing gravity is a bitch and men lose interest once the saddlebags start showing. Even the aforementioned serial killer in town was once the executive producer of KIDS Incorporated before he started his nefarious ways (sadly for all of us he couldn’t have started when he was the actual producer – that way we could have missed both Martika and Fergie’s solo careers). It’s little cultural infusions like this that make Todd even funnier if you’re in on the joke.
The art is cartoony, but that only helps to make the wrong wronger in my opinion. When you see a roll call of the various sub Aryan nations inside prison, it just becomes funnier when they look like they stepped out of a Saturday Morning TV slot. I’ll admit it was also funny they put a child on death row simply because he’s so damn ugly.
There was not one page of TODD THE UGLIEST KID ON EARTH where I broke my smile. I laughed and laughed hard at almost every other page. I don’t mean those conciliatory titters we give writers when they try to make a joke, I mean outright belly aching guffaws. However, I’m a sick fuck. I find humor in the awfulness of mankind. If you’re squeamish or overly sensitive about…well anything…go read MY LITTLE PONY: FRIENDSHIP IS MAGIC because TODD doesn’t need fantasy to make one believe that the world isn’t bad – he shows us it can be good no matter how bad the world actually is.