If I could play “Teen Boat” in the lottery, I would.
A couple weekends ago, I cleaned up and reorganized my comic collection. I bagged and boxed lots of comics I had left lying in stacks around the house (I know, bad geek!) and put them all on a shiny new shelving unit. While going through the boxes, I found my ashcan set of Dave Roman and John Green’s silly story from several years ago.
I flipped through them for a laugh and thought, “I wonder if they ever did anything more with ‘Teen Boat’?”
Three days later, I was picking up my comics, and there was a poster for an upcoming “Teen Boat” book, but there was no release date. Roman will be a guest at the Kids Read Comics convention in July, so I figured I’d grab one from him there.
Two days later, I received a review copy of the hardcover from Clarion Books in the mail. The accompanying press release said the book would be released in May, but there it was at my comic shop last week. (This seems to be a trend for mainstream publishers, so I will now just subtract a month from press releases when planning my review schedule.)
So it’s fate that you should all go out and buy “Teen Boat” today.
There’s some mild language and high school hijinks (mooning, drinking), so “Teen Boat” falls on the older end of the all-ages scale. It’s still good for a lot of laughs.
Life as a teenager is hard enough, but it’s tougher when you can turn into a boat (you don’t want to know where barnacles show up) — and even worse when you turn into a small wood yacht at inopportune times at school or in public.
The new, all-color book collects the original six black-and-white mini comics and adds several more short chapters. Along the way, he puts up with the school bully, his unrequited love for a foreign exchange student, detention, pirates and the dreaded drivers education instructor.
Roman and Green throw in lots of great gags in the text and visuals. Teen Boat’s crush is the lovely Nina Pinta Santa Maria, and in one story arc, Teen Boat is torn between his human love for Nina and his boat love for a talking gondola who can’t turn into a human like he can. And when he does turn into a boat, it’s very “Go-Bots.”
He meets the crusty Uncle Donald and his three RGB-colored nephews. And Green gets my undying respect for throwing Janice (the Muppet), Black Jack (the anime/manga character) and Jesse Sr. (“American Chopper”) on a single page set in an operating room.
But the gags only add to the solid storytelling. Sure, it’s extremely, unabashedly silly, but it also has heart. You root for Teen Boat (yes, that’s his actual name) as he runs for class president, and you feel his pain when Nina chooses jerky jock Henry Cobbs.
Meanwhile, he’s totally oblivious to the crush of his best and oldest friend, Joey Steinberg, the girl next door with a secret.
A previous generation got “My Mother the Car” on TV. We get “Teen Boat” at the bookstore, and that’s great.