‘Arr ye ready kids?!’ Today we’re taking a deep dive under the ocean to Bikini Bottom, home of a particularly loveable sponge and his fishy pals. Can Spongebob Comics Volume 1 live up to the creativity and vibrancy of its TV counterpart? There’s only one way to find out!
As a huge fan of the Spongebob Squarepants TV show, I was intrigued to find out that Spongebob and co.’s adventures continue in comic book format. As a child and as an adult, Spongebob is a show that always brings me happiness, from its goofy humour to its stunning animation. So it was with great trepidation that I picked up the first compiled volume of the Spongebob comic series, which ran until a couple of years ago.
Thankfully, I was not disappointed. Though the title of Silly Sea Stories made me worry that this particular spin-off may be more catered towards kids, the comics have the exact same feel as the original Spongebob series, accessible to kids and adults alike. The amount of creativity, diversity and frankly weird storylines throughout the comics build on and increase the fun of Spongebob’s world, rather than take away from it. This was clearly a passion project for the crew, who found an imaginative outlet for some of their more out-there storylines. The freedom to try so many different art styles, formats, and narratives outside of the high stakes TV show make this experimental compilation a real delight. Quite frankly, the modern Spongebob fan needs to read these comics.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s talk about the plethora of interesting and hilarious content compiled in this volume. Handpicked by creator Steven Hillenburg from the first thirty issues of the Spongebob Comic series, these panels are considered the best of the best. And boy do they deliver. Our first story is a longer comic, titled ‘Day Off, Off Day’. Mr. Krabs is being his usual cheap-skate self and tricking Spongebob into giving up his days off. When a health inspector overhears and demands that Spongebob take his regulated day off or the restaurant will be shut down, Mr. Krabs does anything and everything to get Spongebob out of there. But Spongebob isn’t too eager to take the day off…
This is a classic Spongebob adventure, with comedy and ridiculousness sprinkled throughout. The art by Gregg Schigiel is close enough to the animation we’re used to seeing on our screens, but noticeably has its own distinct style and puts a spin on the characters. Schigiel really utilizes the malleability of Spongebob; he can be squeezed and squished, from sliding in between doors to delivering himself to Mr. Krabs as a letter in an envelope. It’s a brilliant reminder of how versatile and fun Spongebob as a character is created to be, without even having to say a word.
Some other highlights include a storyline in which Squidward becomes BFFs with Spongebob’s grandma, and the Krusty Krab being stolen by King Neptune. The latter even briefly transcends into the realm of horror, with some truly creepy glassy-eyed dolls appearing in a few panels hovering over Spongey and Squidward. ‘Split Decision’ is another stand-out, inventive story in which Spongebob splits himself in half to complete different activities. We follow both sides of Spongebob on different halves of our page, with one panel cleverly overlapping/being relevant to both storylines. Almost every panel in these comics pays tribute to the creativity and wackiness of the original source material that we all know and love; there are comedic, hyper-realistic close-ups, amazing facial expressions and so much more.
The wonderful sense of nostalgia throughout just makes this a warm, happy, silly read. I love the incorporation of old-school newspaper cut-outs that you can send away for a special prize or to become part of a club (although joining the Krabby Klub sounds more like becoming a patty salesman for Mr. Krabs than anything else!). It was a real joy to see the characters we know and love in different settings and art styles that shine in comic book format. If you fancy a nostalgia trip, some stunning art, or just goofing off with Spongebob for an afternoon, this volume is for you!