Kaput and Zosky
Kaput and Zosky are evil aliens who want to conquer other planets but are terrifically bad at just about everything. As expected from a Lewis Trondheim project (with additional art by Eric Cartier), they’re also wonderfully cartooned and flat-out hilarious.
Often, Kaput and Zosky do end up ruling, but it’s by accident, and then they can’t get rid of their new status fast enough, since they have no sense of achievement when that happens. They land on planets with gambling addicts, sculptors, gladiatorial contests, potato people (where a conk on the head makes Kaput a good guy), vampires (where garlic sausage comes in handy), and democrats. There’s an alien mother who adopts them and an arms race they create due to an opportunistic salesman working both sides.
Kaput is short, round, red-haired, and stupid. Zosky is long, thin, yellow-haired, and slightly more logical. They’re both violent, which provides much amusement to readers of all ages. They have very simple desires: they want to kill things, but most of the time, they never seem to get around to it. The one part of planetary dictatorship they have mastered is the ability to declaim in grandiose style their lofty plans of destruction. Like any bullies, though, they’re cowards. When confronted with something fearsome-looking, they turn tail and fly away.
Judging from an early chapter, another way to defeat them is to confuse them with established bureaucracy; they don’t cope well with going on vacation at a resort. One particularly funny planet is full of red beings that look like clams with legs. They’re also very literal, reacting to figures of speech, and perfectly agreeable, giving their new rulers complete obedience without Kaput or Zosky having to do anything. Which they hate, because there’s no satisfaction in hearing screams of terror just because you asked for them.
The stories are short, four or six pages, and they’re intermixed with one-pagers featuring “The Cosmonaut”, a galactic explorer whose solution to everything is to shoot it or insult it. He’s a parody of the self-centered traveler, hiding his fear through violent posturing. And that’s the strength of this comedy: there’s plenty of physical humor for the young, while the older will be entertained by satiric messages about human nature.
Kaput and Zosky were also turned into a cartoon that’s available on DVD. Trondheim has done many other books, including Little Nothings. (The publisher provided a review copy.)