The Slightly Askew Adventures of Inspector Ham & Eggs #1
Written by Stephen Lindsay; Illustrated by Lauren Monardo
Chimaera Comics; $3.95
Like my write-up of Pirat Tales last month, this is going to be a shorter review. Since I’m used to writing longer pieces about graphic novels and collections, I feel a little weird doing these briefer ones for single issues. It feels like I’m slacking off or something.
But thinking about the name of this column, I also feel like it’s a huge part of what I’m supposed to be doing to tell you about new series that look like they’re going to be really cool. Pirat Tales was one of those; Ham & Eggs is another one.
I learned about Inspector Ham and his junior partner Eggs over at Steve Niles’ forum, so I suspected right away that this wasn’t a kids’ book. And of course, any comic that proudly talks on its cover about reveling in the carnal delights of hookers, hatchlings, and hogs obviously isn’t meant for the little ones. So, in spite of the adorable characters and the cute names, I wasn’t exactly shocked at what I found in Ham & Eggs. Still the art and the concept is so disarming that with every profanity and decapitated guinea pig whore I found myself grinning and thinking, “No, they didn’t just do that.” But they had, and they’d continue doing it for the rest of the issue.
Even though I need to point out the grown-up humor right away, I don’t want to make too much of it. Ham & Eggs isn’t just about shocking its readers. That’s just one of many tools Lindsay and Monardo use. Inspector Seranno Ham doesn’t swear at all, for instance. He’s funny for other reasons, a lot of them visual as he’s so tiny and cute, but also so very intelligent and skilled at hand-to-hand combat. His relationship with the even tinier and cuter Eggs is wonderful. I want to say that there’s a Homes-Watson thing going on, but it’s really more like Holmes and one of the Baker Street Irregulars. Eggs eagerly soaks in everything Ham has to tell him about the arts of clue-finding and justice-bringing, but sometimes has to be reminded of important rules like, “Never Use Collected Evidence as a Weapon.”
Then there are the villains of the piece. Ham’s arch-nemesis G’nok is a talking gorilla, so that comes with obvious charm, but the real pleasure is in reading about the evil warthog Baron Von Blackforest, his cross-dressing raccoon lackey Colonel Strudel, and their submarine full of goose-stepping, killer bunnies. Put all of these guys together with Ham, Eggs, and an enormous alligator in a dinner jacket waiting for Ham back at his place and you’ve got an awesome cast. Put them in a mystery about murdered prostitutes and what that has to do with trying to take over the world and you’ve got a promising beginning to a potentially spectacular mini-series.
It’s a Print on Demand book, so I doubt you’ll find it in your local shop unless your local shop is really, really cool, but you can get the first issue here.