Ostensibly billed as a “mystery” by its publisher, Silver Sprocket, Gnartoons creator James The Stanton’s latest mini, I Think Our Friend Dan Might Be A Dolphin is, I suppose, just that — if only because you’ll be mystified as to why it’s labeled as such.
“Spoiler” alert, if such a thing is necessary : Dan is a dolphin. And a particularly randy and gluttonous one, it would seem, although for all I know maybe all dolphins are. Never having known one personally myself, I couldn’t say for sure. But there’s definitely something about Dan’s behavior that seems a bit — I dunno — over the top?
Maybe we’re just pre-disposed to think of dolphins as nature’s “good guys.” We’re told that they’re damn near as smart as we are — hell, we’re told by Douglas Adams that they’re even smarter. Which, given the recent course of human history, isn’t really all that hard to believe. But whatever romantic notions I may have subconsciously held about a dolphin-run world being better than one with humans in the metaphorical drivers’ seat are pretty much out the window thanks to Stanton. And to Dan.
Which isn’t to say that I didn’t enjoy this mini. It’s the kind of outrageously loopy fun readers have come to expect from Stanton — the sort that makes us feel just a trifle uneasy, in fact, which is usually a more rewarding kind of “fun” than just standard, ya know, fun. Plus, Dan seems to have a thing for Buffalo wings. So points to him for that.
Printed in what I guess we’ll call, for lack of a better term, “dolphin blue,” the cartooning in this one is solid and subversive — a modern-ish twist on classical “funny animal” illustration that makes some of the unfunny shit stand out (hell, lash out) by default. It’s not ridiculously distinctive stuff, but it doesn’t really need to be — for a “mystery,” this story’s actually pretty simple, and an equally simple art style fits the narrative like a glove. Not that you can get a glove around a flipper, mind you — but you can’t get a flipper around a chicken wing, either.
Which doesn’t prevent Dan from trying, of course. If anything, he’s almost annoyingly persistent — another “quality” about him you’ll love and loathe in equal measure. Which means, I suppose, that dolphin or not (and, again and for the record, he is) Dan’s an awful lot like any of your friends or mine. Their flaws are glaringly obvious, and become even more so when they pathetically attempt to obscure or conceal them, but we can’t help but like ’em even if they make it pretty tough to do so sometimes. They’re far from perfect, but we can count on ’em to deliver as promised — or at least try really goddamn hard to — and we’ll forgive ’em if they come up a little short because, hey, they’re not so bad once you get to know ’em, and they’re pretty good at making us laugh. The same is true of this comic.
I Think Our Friend Dan Might Be A Dolphin is available for $5.00 directly from Silver Sprocket at https://store.silversprocket.net/products/i-think-our-friend-dan-might-be-a-dolphin-james-the-stanton-gnartoons
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