Earthworm Jim: Launch The Cow Review - Epic Nostalgia Bomb
Updated: Nov 25, 2020
• Katherine Garner (Colorist) • Douglas R. Tennapel, Inc. (Publisher)
It's hard to quantify the sheer insanity to be found in this Graphic Novel. I want to say at the outset of this review that I never had any real experience with any of the Earthworm Jim games or supplemental material (cartoon, comics, toy line). I know the character but beyond that, I walked into this book relatively blind. Prior to reading Bigfoot Bill, I had also never read a Doug TenNapel book. I loved that Graphic Novel and on the strength of that positive experience, I backed EWJ's crowdfunded campaign relatively early on.
The only thing I can compare Earthworm Jim to is a fever dream with a narrative throughline. There are so many seemingly random elements throughout the book that its hard to believe that the narrative works at all. The brightest spot for the comic is that Doug's imagination which is seemingly endless. Earthworm Jim is literally a sentient earthworm with an extraterrestrial battlesuit. He uses it to do battle with an alien Crow seeking to eat him and destroy the earth. I know Earthworm Jim is literally the name of the game but I thought it was more complicated than that.
As the book goes on and we meet the rest of the cast from the games including Evil The Cat and Princess What's-Her-Name. In between the beginning and concluding segments of the book, there is an endearing story that takes advantage of comics as a visual mode of storytelling. You don't need to have knowledge of the game to enjoy the book and its safe to say that EJW is suitable and can be enjoyed by everyone.
The gags come on every page and have a decent enough hit rate. There were some legit chuckles in between all of the action. If you're a hardcore fan of the character or need a nostalgia fix you'll really enjoy this comic. If you're not as plugged into the character or lore I think mileage may vary. Overall I found Bigfoot Bill to be a more focused narrative. Both characters are goofy but Bigfoot Bill seems to have more substance at least to this point in the narrative.
The art throughout the book is simply gorgeous. The colors feel right at home with what can be found in the game and perfectly complement Doug's pencils. There are some excellent design choices that few creators could compete with. One example is a chase that occurs early on between Princess Whats-Her-Name and Psycrow. The entire chase is excellently rendered and the way that Outer Space is presented takes the encounter to another level.
What's not up for debate is the presentation of Earthworm Jim. This is an absolutely huge book, in both overall size and page count. The book is presented in a 9x12 hardcover format and is 160 pages. This allows Doug the space to throw as much content into the book as he can come up with. The campaign also featured a ton of goodies as shown in my unboxing video below. All of this adds up to one of the best values in crowdfunded comics. It's hard to adequately express how much life exists in between these pages. It's an awesome graphic novel and a love letter to the fans of the franchise and backers of the campaign. No matter how you come to get your hands on this book it's worth checking out and the time investment.