Story and Art: Adam Fotos
“Dragon and Goat: the S’Parktacular S’Particles” is an indie comic book written, drawn and produced by Adam Fotos, as a continuation of his comic strip, Dragon and Goat, which ran in various newspapers for 6 seasons. It follows the adventure of the eponymous duo as they visit the theoretical physics lab where Goat works. There, Dragon’s loveable blunderings cause science mayhem when the S’Particles (Powerpuff Girls-esque characters based on String Theory) appear. Simultaneously geared towards children and holders of PhD’s in theoretical physics, D&G: TSS is a colorful story written with layers of subtext and pop culture references.
What I Liked:
D&G: TSS is an interesting sort of paradox that surprised me and kept me reading. The design of the characters and the art makes you think more of a children’s cartoon, a Calvin and Hobbes sort of feel, but the characters have very educated vocabularies and often speak like philosophers and scientists. A good example of this is when Dragon, a simple minded character who normally is just looking for fun, spouts off words like “denouement” while pantomiming barfing into his hands.
TSS is also full of pop culture references that are well done and integrated into the story. During a section that literally breaks the fourth wall, we have references to superheroes, classic comic strip characters, video games and more. Remember how I said the S’Particles reminded me of the Powerpuff Girls? Adam lampshades that directly in the comic.
What I Didn’t:
It’s weird, but some of TSS’ greatest strengths were also some of its biggest weaknesses. The disconnect between the art and writing style was very interesting, but also a little jarring at times. The pop culture references were fun, but sometimes they overwhelmed/distracted from the development of the characters and story. It’s probably not very helpful of me to both praise and criticize the same elements, but while these elements made TSS interesting they also made it a little confusing. It was difficult for me to get sucked into the story when it kept reminding me about the “real” world.
One of the main struggles for Dragon and Goat though is somehow alluding to the 6 previous seasons of character development while still allowing TSS to be a stand-alone book. I felt like I didn’t really get a chance to learn who these characters were. Like it was expected of me to have read the first 6 issues in order to learn who the main characters were, because there wasn’t time to really introduce them as characters before bringing in the new characters unique to this plot line. Combine this with paradoxical characters like Dragon and I just never quite knew who these characters are or what to expect.
The bonus content at the back of the book is a great idea, but it actually ended up confusing me a bit more about the nature of the book. The games and activities at the back are very little kid focused, but the bonus explanations and content are at a higher level of physics knowledge and critical thinking than a young child who wants to color in the back of the book wouldn’t have. Adam may have been trying to make the book all ages inclusive, but it ended up just confusing me as to who the intended audience is.
“Dragon and Goat: The S’parktacular S’Particles” is a well-drawn and conceived story based on a rich history of stories. It has a well-defined artistic style that is pleasant to look at and is rich with detail. The characters are emotive and interesting, even if I wasn’t able to fully get to know them just in this issue. The plot and story itself was very episodic. Everything that happened started and ended in this issue. This isn’t bad, but it left me very uninvested in the story or what happens next. If I had read the 6 issues prior to this one I might have a better understanding, but this relaunch of the newspaper strip into a comic book relies a little too much on its past seasons.