Kudzu is a coming of age comic which ran from 1981 until the passing of it’s creator Doug Marlette is 2007. It began as a comic about a young man named Kudzu Dubose in a small town of Bypass, North Carolina who is torn between his life in the small town and his longing to be a writer in the big city of New York. He is sort of a hapless, sad sack character trying to find his way in life, but without any self confidence, he relies on a heartless cast of characters to lend their advice.
There is the Preacher, which would later become the main character of the strip as time went by, who in this collection is distracted and uninterested in dealing with his congregation or people in general.
There is Kudzu’s one true love Veranda, which has absolutely no interest in him and is sometimes flattered, but more often annoyed by his interest in her.
There is Mama, who is an older woman who does not want to lose the only man left in her life and guilt’s Kudzu into abandoning his half hearted attempts to move away.
There is Uncle Dub (short for W) which is the ultimate straight man in the strip and a true good old boy.
There is Maurice, who is Kudzu’s best friend and is often the realist in Kudzu’s designs to fame and fortune as a writer.
And finally there is Doris, the parakeet that won’t talk and Kudzu’s most faithful friend.
This collection deals with the beginnings of the comic and how it was originally presented, during the 80’s and 90’s there were a great deal of televangelists scandals and Doug Marlette, being an editorial cartoonist as well as a syndicated strip artist soon began bringing the character of the Preacher, later named Rev. Will B. Dunn to prominence in the strip. Kudzu began to slip into the background more and more over time as a character and the focus of the comic shifted and became more topical.
In this collection, the first in the series, it is all about Kudzu and introducing the world of Bypass, North Carolina, which could be taken for anywhere in the Southern United States. The comic begins like most with the clueless lead character being drawn forward by his dream of being a writer and coming to terms with all the mundane injustices of life, I imagine that the comic was quite autobiographical in many aspects to Doug Marlette’s life.
All in all, it is a good comic with great characters and a charming rural flavor. At this stage in the comics history, it is funny and humorous throughout with good pacing and excellent modern style comic art. This collection is a little hard to find, but can be picked up pretty cheaply when it is found on e-bay. There are many more collections in the series and they likewise are difficult to find in many cases, but well worth the hunt.
Kudzu is a very good collection of what would later develop into a more editorial and topical comic, but this collection is classic cartooning at it’s best. Highly recommended.
So until next time True Believers, may your mug always be frosted and your root beer always foamy.