Book - Melting Pot

Melting Pot

Does Alan Henderson’s comic strip collection Melting Pot break the ice for Susan Omand or does she give it a chilly reception...

We get a lot of different and diverse things to review here at /G-f and sometimes the most unexpected turns out to be the most rewarding. That is the case with Melting Pot from Alan Henderson. This book is a small collection of his Penned Guin comic strips, the drawing style of which reminded me very much of Bunny Suicides or 101 Uses for a Dead Cat. The content however is nowhere near as macabre and the humour had me laughing enough to startle the cat on several occasions.

The subjects of the comic strips are, as the Penned Guin name suggests, penguins. So far, so Madagascar I hear you think but you’d be wrong, the Penned Guins are, to my mind, much funnier and much more grown up. Being simple one to three panel strips, the jokes don’t have time to be a slow burn, instead you either get, or don’t get, them straight away. Longer story themes do sometimes evolve over several strips but each strip also works very well on its own and Henderson has cleverly mixed both written (his puns are worse than mine and that’s saying something) and visual jokes to good effect throughout. Some of my favourite strips were, surprisingly, the visual jokes. Quite often the characters will wander outwith the boundaries of the panel itself, like a penguin using the top bar of the panel for chin-ups (or should that be beak ups?) and the strip where their world went wobbly because there wasn’t a ruler for the edges. My utter favourite though, that I’m still chuckling about now, is the wereguin. Description cannot do it justice, you just have to see it to believe it. However not all the comic strips worked as well as those for me and there were some that tried too hard to be moralising and impart, albeit useful, information in an entertaining way, such as the sunburn warning one. While I can see them being fine in context in a daily paper or whatever, they just didn’t sit well with the humour in the rest of the book.

With no bad language, I would say this comic strip collection, along with the others in the same series, is suitable for all ages, although younger folk might miss some of the more sophisticated humour, and is definitely something to bear in mind when you’re looking for a good (whisper it) Christmas stocking filler.

Image - Penned Guin

Buy Melting Pot direct from the author here