Review by Frank Plowright
Although these strips were created in late 1971 and 1972 it’s perhaps only the lack of computers around the offices giving that away, as the timeless situations and jokes could have been written yesterday. They’re an amazing selection, beautifully paced and drawn to perfection, André Franquin’s cartooning so rich in movement and personality.
Gomer Goof is the well-intentioned, if lazy, office boy at Spirou, the weekly French comic anthology, where his broad range of interests encompasses almost everything other than the work he’s paid to do. He’s forever devising helpful new techniques and gadgets that often go wrong, causing more problems than they solve, especially when De Mesmaeker turns up with contracts to be signed. If you’d thought Franquin had exhausted all the possibilities of ensuring the signatures never manifest, you’re proved wrong here as that’s a recurring subject of Good Golly, Mr Goof! Also recurring is the traffic policeman Longsnoot, seen on the sample page. That illustrates just how good Franquin’s composition is. By his high standards it’s rather an obvious slapstick selection, but so impeccably drawn that it transcends the script.
Franquin includes Spirou colleague Raoul Cauvin (see The Bluecoats and Cedric), mentions Charles Degotte’s Flagada (as yet not translated into English) and introduces new character Bertie, perpetually depressed and subject to Gomer’s attempts to cheer him up. Franquin himself was plagued by depression that would become worse as he aged, so knew of what he wrote. Several others are credited for plots or scripts beside Franquin’s charmingly individual signatures, a new one at the bottom of every strip. “J.V.H.” (Jean Van Hamme?) is credited on several occasions, and among other contributors is Jean Roba (Billy & Buddy).
Despite Gomer Goof being so good for so long, Franquin can still surprise, and a delightful strip concerns Gomer’s visit to the zoo to arm wrestle with an elephant’s trunk. What’s it mean? Who knows, but it’s inspired silliness.
A Giant Among Goofs was a five star selection, and so is this. The chances are high that Gomer’s Goons will be as well.