James Stokoe. The man is a flippin' genius. In my ongoing effort to own every piece of comics work the man has ever created, I recently exchanged some of my hard-earned cash in return for two of his early comics works: Wonton Soup, and Wonton Soup 2: Hyper Wonton Soup 2 Two Ton Soup: The Quickening 2. That's one hell of a mouthful for a title, but naming aside for now, lets focus on the magic that is Wonton Soup.
Wonton Soup focuses on the exploits of Johnny Boyo, a space trucker who, thanks to an attack on his spacecraft by some space ninjas, finds himself back on the planet of Plaxos. Not exactly the place he wants to be since Plaxos is the home of his former culinary school, where he rose to the ranks of star-pupil before suddenly dropping out. His lady lives there too, and within a few hours of his return, he finds himself back in the good graces of his chick, and challenged to a cook-off by the school's current top-chef twins. Along the way there's plenty of crazy-ass shit that goes on, not to mention some nutty recipes and some crazy cooking exploits.
At the very moment when I finished reading Wonton Soup this graphic novel went down as the most out-there and crazy thing I've read in the world of comics. That lasted a grand total of about 24 hours...which is when is when I finished reading Wonton Soup 2: Hyper Wonton Soup 2 Two Ton Soup: The Quickening 2. Take everything that was crazy, fucked up, strange and out-there about Wonton Soup and multiply that by about a thousand you got yourself the content of the second Wonton Soup graphic novel.
I gotta say that these Wonton Soup comics lack the cohesion and sharpness of Stokoe's work on Orc Stain, but these comics sure do display his ability to write stories that are absolutely hilarious and filled with incredibly creative and fantastic ideas. Both of these graphic novels are packed with one crazy/amazing idea after the other. Stokoe has an amazing ability to tap into a vein of creativity that brings out some of the most inventive shit to ever hit the printed page. Wonton Soup and Wonton Soup 2 are pure madcap genius.
Oh, this stuff is absolutely gorgeous to look at too. Stokoe is easily one of my favorite artists in the business. There are times when I look at one of his pages and totally lose myself because there is so much minute detail, and stuff going on. I've wondered many times how long a particular page took him to draw, because some pages are so jammed with amazing detail, it is mind blowing. This is the kind of art that really engenders itself to the reader. Just by looking at Stokoe's work I can instantly tell that hours and hours of painstaking work were lovingly put into each page, and when the creator of a work cares that much about the quality, I find that it translates to high quality work.
Yes, Wonton Soup and Wonton Soup 2 might be two of the weirdest things I've ever read, but they are an absolute blast to read. You don't so much get a story as you do an experience. You gotta trust me, just do yourself a favor and go find something by James Stokoe and enjoy being entertained. You know what, I'll do some of the leg work for you. Here you go:
Seriously, check out his website, which has comics stuff for you to enjoy. Dude also has a tumblr, which is cool too. All good stuff. Once you are gorged on the stuff you can see for free, check out the other James Stokoe related mega-awesomenes I've reviewed or discussed here at the blog.
Wonton Soup Grade: A-
Wonton Soup 2 Grade: A