To anyone who has ever felt their employer was evil…you might be on to something. Take for instance Charles a put upon programmer working for SCM Industries in Tucson. He goes about his day like any ordinary coder would, adjusting codes to make sure the tabs on a login screen work the way they should, Charles has an annoying boss who cannot do what Charles is able to do but he still has to deal with the boss’ constant overbearing advice. He just wants to do the job and maybe get to know his co-worker Matilde a little better. By the way Charles is a monkey.
In “Code Monkey Save World” #1, Charles might be the only hope the world has of stopping an evil robot invasion, if he can get people to look past the fact that he is a monkey in man’s world. The new four part series from Monkeybrain Comics is out and available through ComiXology.com by writer Greg Pak, artist Takeshi Miyazawa, colorist Jessica Kholine and letterer Simon Bowland.
The story is inspired by Jonathan Coulton songs "Code Monkey," "Skullcrusher Mountain," "The Future Soon," and "Re: Your Brains." The impetus for the comic came when Pak realized that Coulton’s songs were filled with comic book-esque villains. With the singer/song writer's blessing and encouragement Pak went about turning the characters into the stars of a big comic book epic utilizing Kickstarter to get the book published. The trick for Pak was bringing these wild ideas together into one cohesive story.
Getting to know Charles is easy. From the moment he wakes he is just like us, and any slight he receives feels normal in the course of his daily activities. From the sass he gets from the barista, to the boss breathing down his neck about the code he is inputting. After we get to identify with the code monkey, the story wastes no time jumping to the meat of the epic, when Charles’ flirtation with Matilde is interrupted by a robot crashing through the ceiling and abducts Matilde. Charles will do anything to help her.
Enter Skullcrusher, the real boss and evil mastermind behind the SCM Industries operation, he needs the coding ability of Charles to impress his love, Laura the Robo Queen.
Pak’s script interprets the lyrics of Coulton’s “Code Monkey” beautifully. With Charles surviving the daily grind and the annoying boss Rob all the while dreaming of the girl he likes. Pak captures the speech pattern of Charles as used in the song talking like you’d expect a monkey to talk. The details “Skullcrusher Mountian” from the reactions to the pony/monkey hybrid to the ever inflated ego of Skullcrusher Pak makes sure that Coulton’s inspiring tunes are well represented on the page through his tale.
Bringing the monkey, robots and secret hidden lairs to life are the pencils and inks of Miyazawa. The book has an animated look rich with detail that sets the tone perfectly. Charles is one expressive monkey whose frustrations and joys clearly come across on his face so that even as he gives the stock answers to the boss you know how hassled by all of it he is. The robots have just the look of any robot you want to see in a story like this. That classic 1950s vintage that makes you realize the future looked cooler in the past.
The color palette Kholinne uses to embellish the artwork gives the book an added pop. The drab look of the cube farm in which Charles works is replaced with vibrant colors as the sci-fi of the story takes over.
Bowland’s lettering is smooth and the slight bold lettering he uses to give certain pieces of dialogue some added emphasis works well and keeps the narration flowing smoothly without drawing attention away from the art.
What started out as a joke on Twitter by Pak to Coulton has blossomed into a fun comic book full of entertaining and interesting characters. “Code Monkey Save World” #1 takes the characters of song and moves them into a fictional universe where they can be mixed together into one entertaining book, literature and music coming together.