Titan Comics: MINIONS - PAELLA! Review - Warped Factor - Words in the Key of Geek.

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Titan Comics: MINIONS - PAELLA! Review

Tony wants a banana!

The minions, originally from the Illuminations Entertainment movie Despicable Me and eventually from their own standalone movies, are runaway favourite characters on the big screen. Kids of every age adore the yellow, banana-obsessed agents of mischief.

Translating the secret of their success into comic-book or graphic novel is actually harder than you might imagine. Their on-screen antics depend largely on timing, on a childlike inevitability of doing the thing they’re not supposed to do, and on their own language, a combination of English, French and Spanish which nevertheless gets the point across.

In comic-book form, it’s not especially easy to deliver that combination. On the one hand, you don’t want to translate or create the right verbal responses for them from scratch, because they would present quite the reading challenge to the core intended audience. So what you have here is largely a gang of minions who express themselves either purely in visual terms, or through comedy expletives.

Does that work?

Absolutely – it speaks to the fundamental point of hiding the minions’ expression behind a polyglot language in the first place. That doesn’t mean it’s easy – it’s essentially like reading a silent movie with the only real subtitles being in a made-up language – but it allows for Stephen Lapuss on writing duties and artist Renaud Collin to create scenarios that help deliver the straightforward feel of a daily strip from a newspaper, and build them sometimes into series-gags, in the great traditions of the likes of Garfield, Calvin & Hobbes and other comedy strip heroes.

Paella! is a collection of three minions comic-books, Banana!, Evil Panic, and Viva Le Boss!, so it’s quite the bumper collection of minions for your money. The question is whether more minions is necessarily better, or whether in this case, it’s simply more.

The question comes up because the set-ups in these minions strips are not only fairly simple, but also fairly repetitive. Several of the strips here have the same basic premise – minions helping humans against animals, doing the most obvious, slightly shocking thing, and then reaping the whirlwind of their lack of thought, either themselves or for the human they’re trying to help.

Now, granted, that’s fundamental minion behaviour – if anything in the movies is consistently true, it’s that the minions underthink their actions (like the children who are their main audience), and attract absurdist, dangerous consequences. Sometimes the consequences make them laugh hysterically, sometimes the consequences are slapstick, promoting laughter by virtue of surprise or shock. But central to the lives of minions is the risk of danger and even death, their individuality acknowledged, but the danger being a simple, inevitable consequence of minion life.

In all honesty, Minions Paella! will divide the potential audience for the strips. Grown-ups may well tire reasonably quickly of the minions in graphic novel format, because the storytelling regularly follows those straightforward – we hesitate to say ‘formulaic’ lines, and the artwork actually loses something by rendering into the comic-book look, compared to the ‘live’ on-screen versions.

Younger readers though…younger readers might very well love Minions Paella! for precisely that simplicity and repetition. In the same way that younger readers will happily tell you the same story time and time again, not understanding the law of diminishing returns, so they can often be contented by stories that give them the straightforward set-up, action, dramatic pause and pay-off combination that makes up these stories.

As such, Titan has delivered a collection, like the movies, that speaks the language of the core minion audience – the adorable hellions in your own life – without necessarily translating the little yellow maniacs on the same number of levels as the movies.

Adults might not get the same shot of delight from the graphic novel compilation of minion adventures as they can frequently get from the movie versions. But for the youngsters who make up the vast majority of the minions’ fanbase, the collection of lots of similar stories, each of them with a pay-off that absolutely delivers the same sort of explosive comic punch as the movies, will deliver hours of absorption and laughter, without any hardcore need for reading skills.

That means it’s a great compilation for almost any age of minion fan – except possibly for the grown-ups with a silver streak of slapstick in their hearts.

Tony lives in a cave of wall-to-wall DVDs and Blu-Rays somewhere fairly nondescript in Wales, and never goes out to meet the "Real People". Who, Torchwood, Sherlock, Blake, Treks, Star Wars, obscure stuff from the 70s and 80s and comedy from the dawn of time mean he never has to. By day, he runs an editing house, largely as an excuse not to have to work for a living. He's currently writing a Book. With Pages and everything. Follow his progress at FylerWrites.co.uk

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