Review: Bee & PuppyCat, Volume 1 by Natasha Allegri & Garrett Jackson (Spoiler-Free)

A cute comic about a young woman called Bee and her cat/dog/alien roommate PuppyCat, who work for a magical temp agency, travelling to all kinds of strange new planets in order to perform odd (in both senses of the word) jobs.

The art was what drew me to this book – I really loved its bubbly, colourful quality – as well as Allegri’s name on the cover (Adventure Time with Fionna & Cake is one of my favourite comics, despite being based on a cartoon that I’ve watched very little of); I wasn’t even aware of the existence of the cartoon, and as such was a little confused at the beginning of the book. (After which I embraced the series’ whimsical nature and just went with it.)

This first volume is divided into two distinct sections (not including the extensive cover art gallery): First up, there’s what I believe is the first two issues of the serialisation, which tell a cute story about Bee and PuppyCat fixing a broken music box (complete with QR codes that link to the actual tracks, a really cool idea as long as you’re reading somewhere with internet access), and I enjoyed this part a lot. I didn’t get much of a feel for either of the main characters, but that didn’t bother me too much, as it very much felt like it was just the beginning of the story. But instead of continuing on from that arc, or even beginning another one, the second half of the book was PuppyCat Tails, a selection of short comics about Bee and PuppyCat from various different authors and artists, which ended up being a very mixed bag…

I can tell that this is supposed to be an episodic series rather than one single, continuous storyline, but the overall effect seemed incredibly disorganised. The constantly shifting art styles were jarring, and while there were a couple of stories in there that I liked, most of them seemed kind of pointless – some even felt unfinished. They did little to further develop the world or characters, and were something of a let-down after the charming, beautifully-illustrated story at the beginning. I ended up watching all (I think) of the episodes on Cartoon Hangover once I’d finished the book, and was a little more appreciative of these small anecdotes from Bee & PuppyCat’s lives afterwards, but I don’t think they’re enough to carry a whole series, and I wish they hadn’t taken up such a significant portion of the volume.

I wouldn’t say that this was is a great starting point for people who are new to the series (definitely start with the cartoons instead), but I did end up enjoying it regardless, and I’m interested to see whether the next few volumes will be in the style of issues 1-2 or of PuppyCat Tails… I will probably be looking to find volume 2 at my local library, however, rather than buying it to keep.