A Somewhat Interesting Yet, Forgettable Dish
The Great British Bake-Off and an murder mystery are combined and presented in Dark Horse Comics‘ The Great British Bump-Off #1 by (W) John Allison (Giant Days, Steeple), (A) Max Sarin, (C) Sammy Borras, and (L) Jim Campbell. I was initially interested in this issue because of the cover and blurb. I mean, who hasn’t watched an episode of The Great British Bake Off? They make the process of baking English pastries fun! The celebrity episodes are hilarious and I usually enjoy mysteries in comic book form so why not, right?
The Great British Bump-Off’s synopsis should be interesting for anyone who enjoys competition cooking shows, especially the aforementioned. The storyline moves at a decent pace, with quirky one-liners and over the top action for its considerably mild environment of a baking competition. And while the book has all of these things going for it, this comic struggled to hold my interest. I think it was the execution of the murder mystery aspect of the plot. Shauna, the main character, is a young woman with a friendly disposition. Her character borrows heavily from the manic-pixie dream girl archetype (which is noted by her varied interests as a student, grindcore vocalist, and an “experienced mystery solver”). Shauna is supposedly going to solve this whodunnit while baking in the competition. This plot device wasn’t convincing, not even if the intention was to add comedic value. But if you’re not paying attention to that, the comic is enjoyable.
A Diverse Ensemble
What I did appreciate was the level of diversity in the cast. The competitors come from all walks of life.There’s a pharmacist, a retired midwife, a choir master, and a marketing assistant amongst the crew to name a few. There is also some diversity in the race and ethnicities of the competitors with characters like Sunil and Brandy. All of the characters had a brief moment to shine and display a bit of their personality. Whether in their interactions with other competitions or in their reactions to the events playing out. While there are hints of the characters feeding into stereotypes, I think it adds to the plot as it is a reality cooking competition and these stereotypes are always present on those shows. Hopefully, the arc will allow these characters to fully flesh themselves out and become more dynamic.
Stunning Art and Colors
The artwork is amazing and does a lot of the heavy lifting of keeping the reader’s attention. The perspectives in each panel are perfectly chosen and add to the storyline in a phenomenal way. My favorite panels are on page 20, when Maisie (one of the competitors) talks about her dog inspired cake. Seeing her face fall flat after a judge talks about eating dogs as a last resort in a dystopian world…just absolute perfection! I also love characters who are unnecessarily dark and enjoyed watching the rest of the character’s reactions. Artist Max Sarin does an amazing job and I wholly expected this!
The color and lines are perfect. It’s bright, cheery, and saturated. Character emotions and even the subtle facial details in the competitors’ photo was adorable. The lines were bold, which is something that I love to see when the story leans into more exaggerated behavior and expressions.
Overall, the teaser for Issue #2 has me somewhat interested, but not enough to keep reading the single issues. Maybe when the trade paperback comes out, I’ll read the whole arc at once. Hopefully, The Great British Bake-Off’s murder story will have panned out by then.
The Great British Bump-Off #1 is out today!