Friday, September 4, 2015

Toto Trouble: Back to crass by Thierry Coppee

This is a new series of cartoon strips brought over to the US by Papercutz. It reminded me strongly of Goscinny's Nicolas series, which I think is hilarious, but updated for a more modern audience.

Toto is a typical little boy; he drives his parents, teacher, classmates, and sometimes even himself bananas. Always ready to say the wrong thing at the wrong time, you can be sure that most of the page-long comic stories are going to end with with a cross between a groan and a giggle.

A sample storyline: "End-of-the-year gift" shows Toto's long-suffering teacher politely, if not necessarily happily, excepting the gifts presented by her students at the end of the year. Toto's present, a mysteriously dripping box, inspires her to a little guessing game, including a taste test...."Hmm, I think I've guessed! It's...pickles in vinegar!" says the teacher, only to be capped by Totos' ending line "No, it's a little puppy!" accompanied by a green-faced teacher and grimacing classmates.

The art is sure to attract cartoon fans. It's got that excellent "I can whip out a page of these every day" feel that I always get from French comics. The font is a little small, but the character expressions and the timing is perfect. Toto's wide-eyed innocence and the mounting frustration of the adults trying to deal with him is perfectly illustrated and the comic timing works in every story. Toto's class is diverse and while there is some gender stereotyping, it's not too bad.

So, I thought this was really funny and I think kids would too. BUT there's a reason it's subtitled "Back to Crass" and the back advertises "dumb jokes and gross gags." If you have sensitive parents or kids, be prepared for complaints. Toto makes several borderline off-color jokes, there's several panels joking about the kids learning about where babies come from, and the public urinals inspire several penis jokes. It is French after all.

Verdict: This is funny and kids would love it. I wouldn't not recommend it because of the likelihood of complaints, but if you add it to your collection, be mindful of whom you recommend it to and be prepared to explain to irate parents that different cultures have different standards of humor.

ISBN: 9781597077262; Published 2014 by Papercutz; Borrowed from another library in my consortium; Purchased for the library

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