Encyclopedias Brown and White: A FoxTrot Collection Paperback – September 6, 2001
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In the end, the comic failed to appeal to me. It's not a terrible comic, but it's certainly nothing groundbreaking or wonderful. It's pretty much the comic-strip equivalent of a sitcom, with over-the-top suburban-family humor and not much else.
"FoxTrot" focuses on the Fox family -- Roger, a typical bumbling white-collar-worker father; Andy, a stay-at-home mom obsessed with health food and disgusted with video games; Peter, the slacker teenager with a bottomless stomach; Paige, an air-headed teen girl who loves shopping and boys; and Jason, the geeky genius little brother who loves picking on his siblings and doting on his pet iguana Quincy. For the most part the strip gets its jokes and storylines from playing on and/or exaggerating the family dynamic. There's a few strips based on Roger's (vaguely defined) job, and once in awhile some nerd-oriented humor coming from Jason, mostly centered on whatever popular sci-fi or comic book movie is coming out soon but once in awhile delving into computer/video games or higher mathematics. Think of it as your typical family sitcom, with a bit of "Big Bang Theory" mixed in to appeal to the geek crowd.
I think the biggest drawback with this strip is that the creator exaggerates EVERYTHING for the sake of humor, to the point where nothing feels realistic. Yes, humor can and frequently is derived from exaggeration, but quite often "FoxTrot's" tendency to go over the top in every aspect makes it seem far more ridiculous than humorous. Yes, I can buy that Jason is bright for his age -- no, I don't find myself chuckling when he finishes a difficult math final in under five seconds. Yes, I can buy that Peter is a typical big-eater teenager -- no, I don't do much more than roll my eyes when he single-handedly (single-mouthedly?) causes an all-you-can-eat buffet to run out of food. Yes, I can believe that Andy finds certain things on the Internet repugnant -- no, I don't buy that any mother, no matter how disgusted she is with what her kids find online, will dose a modem in disinfectant. "Zits" knows when to use exaggeration to good comedic effect, but it also knows when to stay grounded in reality and keep events a bit more realistic. "FoxTrot" goes over the top too many times for me to find the characters remotely relatable, and when everything is played up to eleven, it gets hard to find anything particularly funny.
The art style is rather weird as well. Yes, every artist has their own style, and I don't expect every comic strip out there to have the exact same visual style (one of the problems I have with most manga is that too often it all looks the same). But the characters of "FoxTrot" look so wacky as to look almost alien -- constantly bugged-out eyes, prominent muzzles in place of mouths and chins, spindly limbs, etc. Backgrounds and other in-frame objects are rendered quite simplistic-ly, sometimes to the point where it's difficult to make out what a particular object is. And maybe I've been spoiled by "Calvin and Hobbes," which often took daring chances artistically and was never afraid to push the boundaries of what newspaper comics could do, but it feels like Bill Amend does little to nothing to try to make his comic visually appealing.
As for the nerd jokes... most of them don't do a whole lot for me, a self-professed geek/nerd. Every once in awhile there'll be a particularly clever one, but for the most part they just seem to be "ha ha, look at how nerdy Jason is, aren't nerds weird?" I don't know if Bill Amend is something of a geek himself and is poking fun at himself, or if he sees nerds as an acceptable target, but most of his geek jokes just aren't very funny.
While not a terrible comic, "FoxTrot" just doesn't "do it" for me. I won't seek out further collections of the comic, and will probably stick to "Calvin and Hobbes" for my comic-strip archive binging. Sorry, Mr. Amend.
There's more chaos and insanity going on in the Fox household than ever before. Jason is aggravating his sister, Paige, Roger is driving his wife up the wall, and Peter is eating just about anything he can get his hands on. They are still just as outrageous as ever and can still surprise us even when we think they can't do any better.
Some of the stuff you will find in this collection:
*Peter's cell phone
*Detectives Jason and Marcus tries to solve a crime
*Roger and his homemade wine
*Varsity e-football (wha?)
*Nosecracker dreams, and much more!
I found this collection of FoxTrot comics to be extremely funny and entertaining. Amend never ceases to be funny and is always looking for something new and clever to write. These collections are also very easy to read over and over again, without it losing any of it's humor. Jason driving his sister insane is always fun to see!
So if you love FoxTrot, then "Encyclopedias Brown and White" is the one for you. Filled with witty humor, outrageous situations, and memorable lines, this is a great read for anyone who's looking for a little humor and entertainment.
This collection with the cover showing Jason and Marcus burning ants, is one of my favorites, due to Phoebe coming over for summer and repeating the science camp thing all over again. It also carries comic strips about Roger making his own home-made wine and Jason competing against with his family computer, IFruit. Also, there are strips about Peter getting a cell phone, and Paige, a Robo-pup.
Most of the strips end with another lessons for the characters, or with an unexpected answers to the story. Most of all, I get great joys when reading it, and I recommend it to EVERYONE.
P.s. Literally EVERYONE
Amend's characters are genuinely likable, not at all preachy, and easily identified with. The fact that Amend and I are roughly the same age may have something to do with it, but I find my interests largely coincide with many of the characters' interests, making the strip a daily joy. I have one unread collection, His Code Name Was The Fox, on my shelf, saved for a time when I need some cheering.
Do yourself a favor and treat your mind to an enjoyable visit to the FoxTrot universe.