1988: Chips and Vanilla

Chips and Vanilla (1988) #1 by Douglas Potter

As far as I can tell, this was never meant to be a continuing series — it’s just a single issue 24 page comic book, by a creator that wasn’t well known at the time (I think). Of course, Kitchen Sink published a lot of these back in the underground days, but by 1988, this was a pretty odd way to publish something like this.

Potter explains what the book is about: The horrors of childhood. He also explains the design of the dog Chips — stitches and George C. Scott eyebrows.

Because I read the design in a totally different way: I thought the eyebrows were a typical signifier that the dog was female, and I thought the scars and bumps were makeup. Like a Jem vibe?

So I’m not so sure that was… er… a brilliant design… Might just be me, though.

As promised, this is all about how much it sucks to be a powerless child. You can see the animation background — the pacing is strong. But the shifts into flights of fancy (the bully turns into Frankenstein) don’t feel well integrated.

Those bits also makes the reading of Chips uncertain — is Chips a fantasy? If so, what really happened on this page? Did the kid just kill the cat? If so, why didn’t the mother do anything? But if Chips is “real”, why doesn’t the mother do anything then either? She’s already that intimidated by the dog?

What I’m saying is that Potter does himself no favours with the logic of the book.

And often the flights of fancy are just difficult to parse. How come the kid can beat up the Frankenstein guy? The dog keeps Frankenstein’s henchmen at bay, but Frankenstein was able to beat the kid roundly on his own earlier in the book?

SO MANY QUESTIONS

It does have a very satisfying escalation into sheer horror which is nice, though.

I was unable to find any reviews of the book, either at the time or now.

This is the one hundred and fourth post in the Entire Kitchen Sink blog series.

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