Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Breakfast of the Gods

Left: Tony and the Cap'n attend funeral services for the Honeynut Cheerios Bee.

Brendan Jones' Breakfast of the Gods is like the 1963 movie, It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, where every scene featured a carload of contemporary comedians. This time, instead of Phil Silvers and the Three Stooges, our characters are Cap'n Crunch, Tony the Tiger and every other cartoon cereal mascot that grinned at you while you rushed to devour the sugary sweetness before the flakes went limp. If you ate breakfast or watched Saturday morning cartoons in the USA in the 70's, you'll know every character.

Most of what goes on is brilliant. The concept is ingenious, the art is luscious, and the stories are plotted with care. The writing is at its best when the characters display personalities that evolve from their core identities. Some characters are plugged into cliched roles (the soldier of fortune, the burned-out secret operative) that feel tiresome, but relief comes when Jones works backwards, drawing strikingly clever humor by returning to the characters' original personality quirks.

Each page reveals a deluge of familiar faces from Cereal Casting. I couldn't stop; I had another bowl, then another.

Before you refer the kids, note that there is violence and adult language. Reading both books is about a 40 minute commitment, depending on your pace and whether the host site cooperates and loads the pages promptly.

Two books of a planned trilogy are done. Navigate using the cereal bowls low on the page, which are sometimes late to appear, making you think you've hit a dead end.