Eric's Top Shelf Comics Review: Okie Dokie Donuts
Published: June 6, 2011 - 10:43am
Creating good children's literature is a more difficult task than it may seem at surface. The target audience can lose interest quickly. Conflict must be presented in a way that moves the plot along, yet doesn't reek of cynicism or overly-explicit danger. Also, parents want to know what they are reading to their kids is worthwhile. A very delicate balance must be achieved to reach each goal, which is what has happened to a large degree with Okie Dokie Donuts.
It is indicative of a work when it begins with a song. It beckons the reader to loosen up a bit and delve into this cartoon world whose elliptical orbit has a pastry as its centrifugal base. It's a great start for the book and is important because one will have to shed pretense and embrace the cacophonous voice palette found in each speech bubble. With its manic expressions and quick, clever use of language, this comic could very much be seen as a performance piece in which readers should take an active role in informing the fiction. While the product is fun in and of itself, there is the power to make it exponentially more so. This is a great quality to have in this genre and the medium in general as each character has a definite voice.
The plot is simple, easy to follow, and has a light “hard work pays off” message. It's easy to follow and transparent in its intentions. Any attempt at a morality tale or deeper meaning is secondary to pure entertainment. Like its eccentric cast, it has a clear sense of purpose. It, also, doesn't overstay its welcome or squander its charm. It's a book about silly things happening with a robot in a donut shop. That's all it is and that's all it needs to be, which allows for whatever underlying messages there are flow effortlessly into the narrative.
The art here by Chris Eliopoulos is a mixture of Pablo Picasso and C.H. Greenblatt (creator of Chowder). The characters feel as if they were put together with a box of parts and are laden with eccentric charm. His lines are dark and he often leaves the confines of the panel. This results in a pop-out effect that provides a certain kinetic energy to the work. It allows even the youngest reader to remain engaged even when the text might go over their heads (which isn't an often occurrence). This is also true as the characters emote with explicit purpose to each smile or grimace. It's earnest and endearing.
The biggest issue with the art is in its colors, which take on a sepia tone. While this works to create a sense of retrospective and classicism, it doesn't do the bombastic nature of the characters and their eccentric confectioneries justice. This is a piece that would benefit from something bright and colorful. The opportunity is missed to capitalize upon the three dimensional quality of the panels by making everything blend in a bit with mainly different shades of brown. This is, however, a stylistic choice and as such could be taken differently by varying readers and it's not enough to take completely away from the overall sense of fun.
It's great that the book comes in a hardcover, because it warrants multiple reads. Like its fictional donuts one can tell that the comic is made with love!
Story: Chris Eliopoulos
Art: Chris Eliopoulos
Cover: Chris Eliopoulos
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