Gronk: A Monster’s Story Volume 4
Gronk: A Monster’s Story volume 4 is the first of the webcomic collections to come out directly from Action Lab (without a previous self-published run). It’s full-color (colors by Kate Carleton, author Katie Cook, and Heather Breckel), which is nice, and it includes the Free Comic Book Day giveaway story. That’s great, because that comic was new content that provides insight on both the characters and Cook’s sense of humor, but it’s presented poorly.
There are 38 strips before that, which would be a book in themselves (if a bit slim for the price tag, although the cost is now half what Cook was charging directly), so the FCBD material could be thought of as a bonus. I feel bad being so negative about it, but … the book format is square, to suit the 2×2 grid Cook uses for most of her installments. The FCBD book was printed in traditional comic book format. To make the pages fit in this reprint, they printed the pages sideways and left half of the top page blank. It looks like this. For 11 pages.
There is an introductory note from Cook explaining why:
It just feels clunky and slap-dash, and some of the content close to the spine is difficult to read, although I’m not sure how it could have been done better without major work reformatting of the pages. As I said before, it’s a good read, giving Gronk’s origin, with amusing interjections from Dale. And before that, there are plenty of enjoyable moments. Many of the strips this time around are animal-centered, with Gronk interacting with pets Harli and Kitty. They’re all adorable (even in the fart-centered comics), and the observations of daily life (often iPad-enabled) are funny.
A couple of page-sized panels really impressed me. They feature the family watching fireworks or Gronk observing the stars. Cook does a good job placing the cartoony characters over the digital, photo-like backgrounds, and the quiet moments are reflective.
You can read more Gronk online.
PS I also was given (thanks, KC!) one of the Gronk plush toys that came out about the same time last month, and it’s cute! The hair is a little weird, though — because it’s done in layers, it resembles either a swimming cap or a bad dye job, as though Gronk was trying to be hip. Still lovable.