Publishing all three volumes of James Proimos's graphic novels in one volume titled The Complete Adventures of Johnny Mutton (with bonus material) is one of the best things I've seen all year. Proimos has a smart, absurdist sense of humor that fans of Captain Underpants series will gobble up with glee. And Proimos and his ovine hero first hit the shelves way back in 2001!
Johnny's story begins in the chapter titled Baby Steps when Momma Mutton opens her door and finds a baby on her step (get it? Baby? Steps?) Proimos has lots of great word play and hilarious character names like Gloria Crust packing the pages of The Complete Adventures of Johnny Mutton. Fortunately, Momma's "weak eyes and warm heart" prevent her from noticing that this beautiful baby is in fact a sheep. Momma teaches Johnny everything a good mother should, but he does get confused from time to time, especially when it comes to hygiene. Proimos could spend the rest of the book sticking with the fish-out-of-water (or sheep-out-of-pasture?) jokes, but he goes one step further and slightly weirder, in a funny, good way. Like when Momma decides that Johnny needs some lessons in manners with Ms. Bottoms because he puts his napkin on his head instead of his lap, says "pronto" instead of please and hides Momma's plate when she leaves the table. Sadly, Johnny is unteachable, but for Momma he can do anything. However, when Johnny doesn't take to Momma's favorite sport, basketball, she understands and supports him completely in his chosen sport of water ballet.
Johnny Mutton's school life is pretty interesting. On the first day of school he brings his teacher, Mr. Slopdish, a bag of marshmallows while all the other students bring him apples. This turns out to be a good thing though, as Mr. Slopdish has a full set of false teeth and can't chew apples. Unfortunately, Johnny is so scared by the sight of Mr. Slopdish's dentures (which he cheerfully removes from his mouth) that he hides in the closet. One of my favorite chapters is The Pirates Meet the Runny Nose in which Johnny, in his giant nose costume with green socks to represent the "runny" part of a runny nose, is misunderstood by all except Gloria Crust, who arrives (late as always) in dressed as a giant box of tissues! True love and a very funny birthday party thrown by Johnny ensue.
I could go on and on about all the crazy, funny stuff Johnny and Momma get up to but it's better if you just read it for yourself!
The original Johnny Mutton trio!
Source: Review Copy