Review by Frank Plowright
Despite being produced by the same folk behind the Bob’s Burgers animated TV show, the first graphic novel wasn’t an unqualified success, but when it came to producing an ongoing series of comics revisions were made, and Medium Rare provides a smoother read.
A big problem with the opening volume was that sections devoted to Gene’s songs, a TV highlight, fell flat without any musical accompaniment. For Medium Rare they’ve been reworked as ‘Gene’s Rhymey Rhymes That Could One Day Be Songs’. It’s essentially the same concept but presented in a more audience friendly fashion. ‘Tina’s Erotic Friend Fiction’ and ‘Louise’s Unsolved Mysteries and Curious Curiosities’ continue much as previously.
The one page text and illustration features have also been replaced by pages now emphasising the illustration. We have Bob’s designs for burger vans, sadly only two, modifying existing vehicles for the purpose of selling burgers, and Linda’s spotlight is now her attempts to take a family photograph in front of the restaurant. As in the show, these always go wrong.
The highlight of this collection is the two part ‘Genederella’, which features a far denser script than usual from Anneliese Waddington and more detailed cartooning by Marcelo Benavides. It fits into a theme already employed in Tina’s strips of parodying films or TV shows, although while Tarzan receives a remake every few years, surely Casablanca is now nearly unknown to the target audience.
For all the improvements, the one element that ensures the comic version of Bob’s Burgers lags behind the fun provided by the TV version is the languid pacing. There’s too much build-up and too few gags to most of the strips. As previously, those unfamiliar with the show will probably be wondering what the fuss about, while those who watch it will hear the cast’s voices in their heads as they read.
The series continues with Charbroiled.