Saturday, October 4, 2014

Review - Parking Garage Planet (Issue 1)

Parking Garage Planet hails from comic book creator Tim Rocks, whose previous artistic undertakings gave the world Goldbug, Slob-oids, and the Elite Leafblower Corps. Tim is a gifted caricature artist, and I always look forward to seeing what happens, when new ideas meet his artistic talent unleashed. This comic book is published under the Peak Fun label.

The front cover of Issue # 1 sets the stage for a horse of a different color. Billing two of the characters depicted on the front cover as "the most shocking new duo yet seen in print" - aka the Sale Sisters, the comic makes a bold grab for the reader's attention. Yet, if they are so shocking a duo, then why are they cowering on the front cover?

The real visual heavyweight that dominates the visuals on the front page is none other than the notorious Dubell Decka. Think big, as in a double decker bus, people, or a double-decker parking garage, if you prefer. She is upstaged on the front cover only by the colorful words which emanate from her mouth.

I won't say that Parking Garage Planet is Tim's best work to date, nor that the setting is one of my personal favorites, simply because neither would be true. But, in all fairness, this comic book does demonstrate, anew, certain aspects of the comic book craft that Tim Rocks excels at.

In an attempt to love this comic, I went back and forth through it multiple times. Nonetheless, it failed to grab me. The storyline isn't one that I want to sink my teeth into, and come back for more, issue after issue after issue.

Oh, it starts out well enough. The front cover's artwork may not seize my attention, but the dialogue does. Sentry gimps. Youthful fashionistas. Hoped-for heroes. Verbally, Issue # 1 is talking the talk, right there on the front cover, and soon enough, the reader is treated to a two-page Kirby-esque "splash page" of action. That's what the great moped jump scene reminds me of, anyway.

Without question, Parking Garage Planet flirts continuously with the imagination. Imaginative is one of Tim Rock's stock-in-trade staples of the comic book art form. His characters are imaginatively drawn. His dialogue tends to be heavily saturated with imaginative verbiage.

Parking Garage Planet is a smorgasbord of imaginative touches. Whether it's a character singing words from a Statler Brothers song, or the use of Goo-Goo Clusters as an obsessive literary device, or a villain who reeks of being a watered-down Darkseid, of sorts, Parking Garage Planet does not disappoint, when it comes to being imaginative, when it comes to utilizing ordinary things in an imaginative way.

When it comes to panels, however, while Tim Rocks is clearly comfortable at the craft of rendering sequentials, Parking Garage Planet Issue # 1 is tepid in its embrace of panels, themselves, as an artform. Why an individual possessed of such mastery in multiple areas of the comic book craft presented this story and its art within the frames of such an unimaginative set of panels is beyond me. It's not as though Tim Rocks possesses no skill in that area, either. The panels in Issue # 1 of Parking Garage Planet warrant Tim Rocks taking a trip into the Pit, way down in the sub-sub-sub basement level. Tim knows what I'm talking about, with this reference, even if you don't.

Story-wise, this issue carries us along with the Sale Sisters, as they deal with the "discovery" of their parents supposed double-suicide, by going shopping, in search of (what else?) sales. Along the way, they manage to end up on the Parking Garage Planet, even though they started out on Earth. Beware strange rings and even stranger elevators!

I think that what I hate the most about this issue of Parking Garage Planet is not so much what I, the reader, was treated to, but rather, that which I was only teased with, but which Tim squandered in passing.

The lady in the booth. The aunt and uncle that were flying in, but weren't. Tobiz.

Some of the more visually interesting characters to greet my eye during my flipping of the pages in this comic book turned out to only warrant the cameo treatment from Tim. It was almost as if Tim was more interested in an artificial page count than in grabbing the reader and yanking them fully into the full depth of his imagination unleashed. When some of the best eye-candy leads to visual dead ends, that can't be good for a comic book.

This issue builds to the crescendo of Dubell Decka's appearance, but then it becomes anti-climactic, after that. Ultimately, I'm left not really knowing what I think - or feel - about this issue, it's storyline, its cast of characters, or where the whole ball of literary wax is going.

I want to like it. I don't end up liking Tim Rock's art and comic book craftsmanship any the less than I did heading into reading this book. But, what's a reader to make of it all?

In the end, when all is said and done, I find myself wondering aloud to myself what the whole point of it all was. Yeah, sure, maybe it needs more issues, to allow Tim sufficient room to chart out this imaginative place that is the Parking Garage Planet and to expound upon the details and the personalities that populate this world.

But, without that, issue # 1 is what it is, and for my two cents worth, I'm not entirely sure what it is that I ended up with.

The lettering is sufficient. It's not bad. But, his lettering skill isn't nearly as developed as Tim's skill with dialogue. His skill with crafting dialogue is, in my considered judgment, superior to his skill at storytelling. He is better within a particular panel, than he is across panels.

And, maybe that's part of what' wrong with Issue # 1 of Parking Garage Planet. I think that, clearly, Tim's imagination was along for the ride - but, what about his heart? There are instances, segments if you will, that I love about this issue. But, do I love the story and its storyline? No, not really.

You can find Parking Garage Planet Issue # 1 online, if you want to check it out for yourself. It can be found here. Or, if you just want to check out Tim's blog and website, that can be found here, instead.

As far as I know, Tim Rocks did all of the writing, art, lettering, and color for Issue # 1 of Parking Garage Planet. The sum total of his talents and skill sets are many, and while I don't consider this issue or this title to be Tim at his best, nonetheless, I do applaud him for continuing to push the envelope on what he is willing to artistically dabble in.

NOTE: I was sent a digital copy of Parking Garage Planet, Issue # 1, in PDF format, so that I could review it.


  1. Wow, I just wrote a long reply, but Google swallowed it up after I logged in..... Yikes!

    In brief: Thanks very much for taking the time to write a review even though it wasn't your cup of tea, Charles. Very much enjoyed reading your thoughts.


  2. Tim,

    Sorry for the delay in replying, but characterizing it as not my cup of tea is only partially accurate. The humor that you inject into your work, the wit, the caricatures, the exaggeration, those sorts of things are core elements of what attracts me to your work. I always gravitate toward them.