22nd Oct2015

‘The Complete Adventures of Cholly and Flytrap’ Review

by Dean Fuller

Written by Arthur Sudyam | Art by Arthur Sudyam | Published by Titan Comics | Format: Hardback, 256pp


I would imagine most mainstream comic book readers would know the name Arthur Sudyam from his several years illustrating those great covers for the Marvel Zombies books, as well as drawing many other Marvel covers. He has of course done much more than that, working on various  international publications and creating his own original material. Cholly and Flytrap was one of his very earliest projects, though it took a few stops and starts before they saw publication.

The character of Cholly began life as an illustration designed for the Heavy Metal film poster, which was ultimately never used, but Sudyam liked the design, gave the character a back story, added the character of Flytrap and wrote up a synopsis of the world in which they lived. The characters then first appeared in Marvel Comics Epic line during the 1980’s, and have popped up here and there ever since in places like Image Comics and Radical Entertainment. Titan Comics have gathered together all those previously published stories for the first time ever in one giant 256 page collection, so you can get every panel ever written and drawn all in one place.

Before getting to the stories themselves the collection has a 16 page introduction to both the book, and the place Arthur Sudyam occupies in the comic book and wider cultural firmament. While informative, for me it overplays the influence of Sudyam, who pales in comparison for me next to many others. But hey…

The background is that many years before a space-barge, Exodus II, crashed on a uninhabited planet. The survivors made a life there but living a somewhat frontier existence, where constant conflict and fighting seems to be not only practiced but enjoyed. Cholly and Flytrap live in this world, and run across the type of characters, and into the insane situations, you would probably expect. Anti-heroes of a sort, but mainly looking to survive and get ahead by whatever means possible. Cholly is the mean, lean killing machine with a fine line in one-liners, Flytrap the (literally) strong, silent type. That beloved pairing of all genres of fiction, the odd couple.

The first thing to say about the collection as a whole is you can certainly see how the characters evolved from those early appearances to the later ones, and how Sudyam improved as a storyteller. While never short of being visually interesting from the very beginning, the humour was very simple and blatant, very visual and very obvious. A darker, more subtle tone creeps into later pages that suits proceedings altogether much better. Sudyam is at his best when he lets his panels tell the story for him, at his weakest with dialogue. He throws too many word balloons across his panels, something a good editor would have probably reduced by about a third. Excess is best, seems to have been his mantra. Over the top action, over the top dialogue, over the top characters.

While I liked the stories here, I never loved them. The attempt to position these stories as genre classics is not one I agree with. They are fun reads, but on a par for me with the best 2000AD stories down the years, somewhere Cholly and Flytrap could certainly have been published. In terms of this collection, the covers and sketches found at the end are excellent, as Sudyam is rarely bettered as a cover artist and one panel sketcher. I found the collection a fun diversion, full of great illustrations but average storytelling, some great humour but poor dialogue.

A mixed bag, if you will. Dip in if feeling adventurous. The Complete Adventures of Cholly and Flytrap is out now from Titan Comics.

*** 3/5


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