May 6th, 2007


Recess Pieces

Friends in the know have been recommending Bob Fingerman's graphic novel Recess Pieces to me for a while now. I always meant to check it out but never got around to it. Then I met Bob at World Horror in Toronto through our mutual friend David Wellington. I liked Bob, so that was the icing on the cake. It was time to read the dang book.

Recess Pieces is essentially the tale of an intrepid bunch of 4th Graders fending off the flesh-hungry zombies rampaging through their school. It seems a Bio class experiment went horribly wrong, releasing a noxious purple cloud that turns everyone into the hungry, walking dead. Actually, not everyone. Just anyone who has hit or passed puberty. So while all the upperclassmen have become zombies, our plucky 4th Graders are safe from the threat of reanimation. But they're not safe from getting eaten. Luckily they can run really fast, know where the baseball bats are, and take more than a little pleasure in using those bats on the heads of the upperclassmen who've been bullying them all year long.

As you can tell, there's a lot of humor at work here -- Recess Pieces is clearly more comedy than horror, which is probably why Dark Horse didn't know how to market it and promptly let it sink. A shame. Recess Pieces is a great deal of post-modern comic book fun. And if you can get past 4th Graders quipping almost non-stop -- as opposed to real 4th Graders, who tend to just stare and mouth-breathe -- there's plenty to love here.

Fingerman, who also illustrates the book, uses a Mad Magazine-esque drawing style. The kids are represented as having tiny bodies and enormous heads. Everyone is pudgy, round-cheeked and buck-toothed, even the adults. For those of us more used to adult fare like Transmetropolitan and Preacher, this style takes a bit of getting used to, but after a few pages it starts to become really cute.

In fact, cute is an excellent word to describe Recess Pieces. Good fun for fans of zombies, comics and precocious kids, it's a quick, enjoyable read that'll leave you smiling and wishing Dark Horse had marketed it better so it could sell more and Fingerman could write the planned sequel. Let's hope he still does, because I for one would love to see Recess Pieces 2: Electric Boogaloo.