Saturday, August 06, 2005

Rarely Reviewed Comics - Welcome Back, Kotter #4

I always liked the Welcome Back, Kotter TV show, at least the first season or so.

It was a perfect example of how to do "dumb" comedy.

Welcome Back, Kotter #4 was very similar.

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If I remember correctly, Mark Evanier, writer of the comic, worked on the Welcome Back, Kotter TV series.

If that is correct, then it really shows in Welcome Back, Kotter #4, as the issue really reads like an episode of the show, except for the fact that the outdoor setting probably would not have been conducive to the show's budget.

The plot is a simple one - the boys' gym teacher is riding them really hard, which Mr. Kotter has a problem with, so, through a series of events, a race between Kotter and the gym teacher is held.

The boys fix it for Kotter to win, but, of course, a lesson of good sportsmanship is learned by the end of the issue.

Ric Estrada and Bob Oksner do a good job on the art of the comic, especially in the depiction of the actors. However, this is not photo-realism, the book is definitely cartoony in style, but I think it looks quite good.

Evanier's story, however, is the real star of the book.

He throws in plenty of one-liners, but his biggest strength was capturing the likability of the characters on the pages of the comic. That is a difficuly feat to translate from live actors to 2-dimensional comic book characters. It is where I felt Ron Zimmerman had a real hard time making the move from TV work to comic book work, as he seemed too dependent upon the actors selling the lines.

Evanier avoids this, and his Mr. Kotter is extremely likable, even without the ever-affable Gave Kaplan portraying him.

This was a silly comic, but it was also a well-made comic.

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Blogger Bill Reed said...

I can't believe I just read a review of the Welcome Back, Kotter comic.

My mind is blown.

8/06/2005 11:55:00 AM  
Blogger Shawn Hoke said...

Thanks for that. There should be more reviews of comics like this.

8/06/2005 07:08:00 PM  
Anonymous Dan Coyle said...

That's a pretty good analysis of Ron Zimmerman's limitations as a writer- I also think his desire to revisit the same father/son relationship issues in every single comic he wrote didn't help.

So, what relative was referenced this time in the opening joke? And did the comic last long enough to the period in the show where Kaplan and his producers were in conflict to the point that Mrs. Kotter was teaching the class?

8/06/2005 11:42:00 PM  
Blogger Brian Cronin said...

His Uncle, Dan.

And no, it did not last that long...hehe.

8/07/2005 12:43:00 AM  

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