Review by Frank Plowright
Vern and Lettuce originated in children’s comic The DFC, a generally imaginative updating of the traditional British weekly humour title, and was one of the standout strips, propelled by Sarah McIntyre’s imaginative cartooning.
Her pages of anthropomorphic creatures are crowded, and busy, over-run by Lettuce’s many rabbit children, and she’s led by shapes. Her cast are round, bendy and pliable, and utterly charming.
Unfortunately the writing doesn’t match the art. While adults and their children will be captivated by the cartooning, its the younger audience alone who’ll take the most from the puns and silly jokes concluding the one page strips, and the whimsical shaggy dog nature of the remainder.
Vern is a sheep employed as the groundskeeper in Pickle Rye park, and puts in the hours chewing away at the grass. When he needs to make a present, he shears himself and knits a jumper. His relationship with Lettuce is indeterminate, but he lives in the flat below her in the tower block, with other apartments occupied by a family of immigrant polar bears, and some yaks. They never stop yakking.
The longer story begins with Vern deciding to audition for a talent show. He first needs to master an instrument, and selects the tuba. Accompanied by Lettuce, he takes the wrong bus to the studio, and ends up running up against the Mafia. The strip squirms away from any kind of predictability, which is welcome.
Vern and Lettuce is available both as a European style hardcover album, and an A5 size paperback. While McIntyre’s art will hold the primary appeal for adults, it’s not poorly served by being shrunk for the smaller format.