by Beth C.
OH GEEZ, where do I begin?! Bobo Backslack’s life is not full of sunshine, rainbows, and unicorns. Instead it’s often full of vomit, allergic reactions bordering on anaphylactic shock, angry animals, bullies, misunderstandings, lost loves, and disappointment. Yet Jon Chadurjian — self-nicknamed Jon Chad, and a faculty member at the Center for Cartoon Studies — has skillfully managed to turn Bobo’s tragedy and misery into a laugh-out-loud story.
The Bad-ventures of Bobo Backslack has plenty of OH GEEZ moments. “OH GEEZ” is Bobo’s catch phrase used on occasions of joy and as a coping mechanism when things take a turn for the worse. It’s also just how he punctuates his speech, similar to how some people insert the f-bomb in their sentences no matter the circumstances.
The tale begins with Bobo grocery shopping at Price-Co. As he pushes his buggy down the aisle, he worries aloud that he lacks the courage to tell Merva that he has a big crush on her. (At this point, readers won’t know who Merva is, but they will discover that they have plans to meet up later that same day.) A fellow shopper informs Bobo that he needs liquid courage. He has no idea what liquid courage is but assumes that a five-gallon container of alphabet soup will do the trick. Bobo seemingly consumes all the soup and leaves his house — clutching his stomach and looking ill — to go meet Merva. A short distance from his house, he gets sick and throws up. Shockingly, the regurgitated alphabet soup spells out hurtful messages with the pasta letters. The soup predicts that Merva will not like him. As Bobo mulls over how strange that message was, he walks straight into a big street thug. He apologizes, and just as the toughie begins to accept his apology, Bobo throws up all over him. The rearranged soup letters, much to our protagonist’s horror, insult not just the thug, but his mom, too.
Bobo manages to escape any beating, and fearing that he will be late, runs to meet up with Merva at the park. As Merva begins to show signs that she may have feelings for Bobo, his stomach turns on him, and he throws up all over her. The harsh statements from the soup — the arrangement of the regurgitation — cause Merva to run away in tears. Just as Bobo is feeling the worst he has ever felt, the street thug shows up and gives him a thrashing. Finally pulling himself together for the walk home, Bobo brushes this off as a simple razzing.
And folks, this is just the first 20 pages!
But the story isn’t just full of random acts of calamity strung together without purpose. Chadurjian has carefully calculated and measured out all of Bobo’s hard luck into a clear story arc. What prevents readers from tiring of slogging through vomit and other unpleasantries is Bobo’s outlook on life: he manages to stay wildly enthusiastic and optimistic throughout his trials and tribulations. In-between guffaws at his expense, you find yourself rooting for him and praying that he’ll finally catch a break. But Chadurjian shows no mercy – Bobo never does catch that break.
Despite the occasional ick-factor, the artwork is oddly stunning and full of little extra details. Chadurjian overlooks nothing when chronicling the unfortunate details of Bobo’s life. I also love that this is a big, thick book. At 184 pages, there is plenty of OH GEEZ! to go around for a reading that is sure to take place over multiple sittings. All in all, this is a tragically funny reading experience with plenty of good old-fashioned hijinks. One can only hope that there will be further bad-ventures of Bobo Backslack. The world needs more Bobo. Or at least I do.
Get your copies of The Bad-ventures of Bobo Backslack, Chadurjian’s other works, as well as other recent AdHouse books: