Dead Duck
Jay P. Fosgitt
Ape Entertainment, 2009
Review by Jeremy Benson

Ape Entertainment, the publisher of Jay Fosgitt’s Dead Duck, suggests that booksellers stock the collection on the Humor, Mature Audience, or Original Graphic Novel shelves. Don’t let this mislead you. Though all of these descriptions are technically accurate, they only marginally reflect the core definition of Dead Duck. “Graphic novel,” especially, taints the cartoonish world of Rigormortitropolis with a seriousness that should be left with Judge Parker and Star Wars spinoffs. Rather, Dead Duck falls under the simple, unapologetic, and immature heading of Comic Book. Indeed, the most disappointing part comes after the final issue, when you’ve turned the last page and found an absence of advertisements for x-ray glasses.

Presented in consistently attractive, retina-stimulating artwork, Dead Duck is a series of stand-alone episodes that follow the Grim Reaper’s minion, adopted son, and delivery boy—the blue, pupil-less undead foul—and his numbskull sidekick girlfriend Zombie Chick, as they travel through time and space to escort the dead to Rigormortitropolis, the overpopulated waiting room to the afterlife.

The truth is you don’t need to be a voluntarily dungeon-entombed collector of American Splendor to enjoy Dead Duck’s adventures. You just need to have been, at some point in your life—or still have tucked away under that business casual attire—a pre-adolescent boy who suckles tirelessly at the glorious breast of Saturday morning cartoons, weaning essential vitamins from James Bond, Jr., Animaniacs, and the Masters of the Universe; later supplementing your diet with peeks at your dad’s nudie magazines after your parents have left you for the night with microwave chicken nuggets for dinner and the blossoming girl from next door as your sitter. It helps, too, if you have a general knowledge of the last 300 years of Western culture.

Although Fosgitt’s underworld touches upon a handful of worthy and serious themes (death and grief, fidelity, psychological patterns in adopted children, and bureaucratic inefficiency, to name the four), the bulk of Dead Duck’s humor focuses on more crucial matters: bad puns, historical parodies, excrement, nachos, and boobs—lots of boobs. Of both the mammary gland and the bumbling fool kinds. But, again despite the profound-leaning graphic novel label, the comic book is not the literary masterpiece it was never intended to be. Neither does it turn stale the nostalgia for childhood curiosity and innocence which it evokes. Dead Duck is, without excuse or adulteration, a blissful and healthy guilty pleasure.

For more information, see Fosgitt's Website.

© Jeremy Benson, 2010