It’s Not Very Good. Not Very Good At All
This is the first bandes desinees book I couldn’t finish. It’s just… not terribly good. I started skipping around, looking for any sign that I had misjudged it, but kept coming up empty.
Ducoboo (by Godi and Zidrou) is a “pitifully inept” student who makes his teacher’s life a living hell and is awful to the girl he shares a desk with most of the time. He’s socially difficult, a consistent cheater in class, and mean towards younger children.
He sounds like just the sort of character you’d want to read about, doesn’t he?
No, no you don’t.
He’s a bad person, the type who dragged every kids’ class down along with him. On occasion, he gets clever about all of that, but then it’s even worse — so he is smart, but he acts like an idiotic jerk on purpose because that seems like more fun? Grrrrr.
It’s possible I have some issues here. I was the well-behaved one in class who had to suffer through the annoyances and the interrupters. My wife is a teacher, so I know what special kind of pain such misbehaved students can be.
I’m all for anti-heroes and characters who are rough around the edges and do some bad things, but Ducoboo is just a jerk without a redeeming quality, and the joke writing isn’t sharp enough to cover that up.
I’m hoping there’s some societal issue I’m not aware of in France that makes this a potent laugh factory. Maybe my viewpoint is too skewed in a different direction, or perhaps this whole series is a riff on another popular French cultural artifact that I’m unaware of.
I kinda doubt it, but maybe?
It’s Not ALL Bad
The cartooning is good enough. There are elements of that Franquin style, but this is far enough away from being a copy. There’s plenty of backgrounds where they’re needed, with enough small details to make for convincing locations. When it’s just the teacher and student going back and forth, those backgrounds drop out, but that’s OK. They’re not needed at that point.
The album is a series of single page gags. Some of them drag on a bit too far. Others just don’t have a big enough punchline to justify the lead-up. The good news with this format is that if one falls flat, there’s 40+ more gags in the book. Nobody is going to get 100%, but the percentage in this book is far too low for me to recommend.
There’s also an attempt on a few occasions to make Ducoboo more sympathetic and likable, but they don’t go far enough to erase the memories of all the other pages.
It’s OK, Ducoboo doesn’t find me funny, either:
(This is Pipeline BD 100 review #22.)