Billy & Buddy is another one of those best-selling French language comics that I’m going to be a bit stand-offish about. Not because it’s necessarily bad (it isn’t), but because I simply found it too simplistic, too hackneyed for my tastes.
Billy and Buddy is a simple tale, with simple, one dimensional characters. Billy’s just your normal little boy, with a tendency to get into a few scrapes, often with his best pal Buddy the dog. Buddy’s definitely the smart one in the comic – although maybe not as smart as he thinks. In fact, if you needed any insight into Buddy’s character just have a look at the cover – that’s a great look.
The other members of the cast in this volume include a very typical comic strip dad – very straight-laced, the butt of many of the jokes, prone to outbursts of frustration and confusion. And then there’s mom. Mom’s a housewife, in a very old fashioned 50s mold – which is to say she’s definitely the little woman (only really excusable here since Billy and Buddy first appeared in ’59 and it was a less enlightened time). At father’s beck and call, ready with the pipe and slippers – although sometimes that is for a good reason:
Each strip is a page long and features the sort of gentle humour were used to seeing in American comic strips. In many ways this feels and looks like a European version of Dennis The Menace (the US one, not the far more destructive red and black jumpered UK one). It’s simple, it’s gentle and there are moments – little facial expressions, bits of body language that promise so much – but all too often it’s too simple, the humour’s too gentle and the whole thing seems just a little flat to me.
However, give it to a child (luckily, I have one in the next room) and it’s a completely different thing. Molly enjoyed it, not her favourite she said, but she liked the simplicity and the silliness throughout. So it’s really up to you – adults? Maybe it’s not for you. Children? Definitely worth a try.