Recess Pieces by Bob Fingerman

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Recess Pieces
By Bob Fingerman
Dark Horse

Bob FingermanThis one managed to slip under the radar (mine, at least), despite author Bob Fingerman’s relative prominence, as well as the author’s move to Darkhorse. The reason for this seems to be three-fold. First, Fingerman missed the Shaun of the Dead/George Romero resurrection zombie wave by a few months. Second, thanks to Fingerman’s distinctive style, the grade school children don’t come across as cute, as the artist seemingly intended, but rather a cross between the Garbage Pail Kids and those horrifying Precious Moments children.

Third, and perhaps most significantly, is the fact that the idea of children running around a school, shooting one another with sub-automatic machine guns for comedic effect may be something that the American public is still not quite ready for. To be fair, we are talking about an army of zombies here, and the present moral standards in this great nation of ours do justify the use of excessive force when confronted by the undead. Still, attempting to elicit a few chuckles from the site of an eight-year-old covered in the blood of classmates and teachers may be something of a hard sell.

If, however, you manage to bypass those initial potential stumbling blocks, there’s a lot of guilty charm to be had in this period piece, set in a mid-70s grade school. The bulk of the action centers around a half-dozen members of the school’s fourth grade Intellectually Gifted Children (IGC) class, dropped into the middle of a b-horror flick, when a handful of undead classmates attack the eighth grade drama club dress rehearsal of the suspiciously Hair-like Forever Paisley.

The playfully-executed juvenile splatterfest that ensues is a mix of makeshift grade school weaponry, over-achieving action hero banter on the part of the IGC students, self-referential commentary on the over-achievement on said banter, and an occasional borderline offensive embracing of the era’s prevelant stereotypes, like the little Asian kid who knows kung fu, and the gay student who knits sweaters for his Troll doll, Saucy Puddlekins, during class.

On the whole, Recess Pieces mostly succeeds in its light-hearted approach to subject matter that might perhaps be more whole-heartedly embraced in different times. Anyone looking for a pre-pubescent Shaun of the Dead, willing to look past the book’s handful of forgivable shortcomings will likely get a kick out of Fingerman’s lighthearted grade school of the living dead.

–Brian Heater

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