Monday, 22 June 2020

#Booky100Keepers Day 50: "Anna and Froga" by Anouk Ricard (Drawn and Quarterly)

We make no apologies for ramping up the comic presence in our #Booky100Keepers as a lot of the books we can't bear to part with are comic collections. They're also the books that C reaches for again, and again, and again and I've lost count of how many times I've found her reading Anouk Ricard's utterly brilliant "Anna and Froga" collections.

There is a reason for that, of course. They are utterly hilarious. Imagine for a moment that someone actually made "Friends" funny, but turned Joey into a dog, Ross into a sausage-like worm, Phoebe into a cat (doesn't take much of a stretch of the imagination), Rachel into a sarcastic little girl, and Chandler into a frog - and you'd be almost on the right track here.

Anouk's simple strips beat with a pulse, are beautifully observed, and (worryingly) you'll see yourself a lot in the situations and social interplay that happens between this bizarre bunch of pals. They like each other, hate each other, are complete dickholes to each other, all beautifully captured by Anouk's hugely effective comic strip props.

Like most brilliant comics that hop across the English Channel from our gallic friends, these collections make us wish we had a better grasp of French just so we could hoover up all the native language editions of the strips.

That said, the two collections in our keepers list are just awesome so we're happy to wait to see if more arrive courtesy of D & Q (hope so!)

I asked C why she loves these so much and weirdly the character who causes the most amount of tension and annoyance among the group is the character she seeks out in every strip.

Bubu is the "That Guy" character in the strip, a self-aggrandising yet completely ineffectual individual who seems to exist purely to be a thorn in the side of everyone else in the gang, yet without Bubu these stories would be nothing. For example we see him:

  • Making a load of nasty cheapo home-crafted christmas gifts out of fudgcicle sticks (but eating all the fudgcicles as well, turning into a porker). 
  • Dragging the gang out to his friend's restaurant, only to be served slop because his friend is sick of his freeloading
  • Leaving train tickets in his suitcase on a platform, abruptly ending a day trip (and getting his case blown up by the police into the bargain)
  • Bragging about his art skills (when really he's been cheating by doing a 'paint by numbers' set instead). 
  • Dragging the hapless gang to a health farm that is a smidge away from a torture chamber
That said, the strips just work because of the interplay and 'bants' between the characters, each with their own little weird character traits, flaws and quirks. As with most of the comics that feature in our #Booky100Keepers list, this one is perfect for parents who want to get their kids reading, or into comics, and I guarantee that kids will read and re-read them as much as C has. 

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