As a kid, I never liked the Flintstones. I thought it was dull and pretty bland. I watched it because as a kid you watch every cartoon but I never enjoyed it. When the live action movies came out, I avoided the heck out of them.
Which is why no one is more surprised than I am that my favorite new comic of 2016 is the freaking Flintstones. Written by the brilliant Mark Russell and drawn by the talented Steve Pugh, the Flintstones is a comic about newly civilized cavemen trying to adapt to the changes of an insane society that is inventing money, consumerism, war, and monogamy. It is a really dark take on some cartoon characters but yet also amazingly funny.
Fred Flintstone is a veteran of the Tree-People War, where Fred’s tribe decided to massacre the Tree-People for their land. Fred’s best friend, Barney, is also a veteran of that war and the Water Buffalo Club of the cartoon has been transformed into their PTSD Veteran Support Group.
In the first issue, Fred is assigned to teach Cro-Magnons how to work, get paid and spend their money. “I don’t know. Use the money to buy something someone else hated making.”
In the second issue, the new invention of buying the latest hot item forces Fred to get a second job selling vitamins.
In the third issue, alien spring breakers show up to entertain themselves at the expense of the third-world locals, the people of Bedrock.
In the fourth issue, Fred and Wilma face social pressure because they are monogamous while the rest of society believes in just going to the Sex Cave and hooking up. This is a favorite issue because when the inventor of marriage excludes the couple of Adam and Steve, Fred makes a stand for “non-breeders” to be married too.
In the fifth issue, a new Warlord wants to be voted leader and we see Fred and Barney’s experiences in the previous war.
Like I said, it gets dark.
But for all of the darkness, there is a huge amount of heart. Wilma explaining what her art means to her in the first issue will make you cry. Fred explaining his respect for Adam and Steve will melt your heart. The surprise appearance of certain characters are timed to make your heart sing.
In these trying times, it is amazing to see social satire that condemns the worse of society but is also immensely entertaining. It is also filled with optimism which I feel we desperately need right now. Sure, I read an issue about ethnic cleansing but the ending, which I won’t give away, gives the reader such a lovely surprise that you leave the comic feeling good and hopeful rather than depressed.
It is also really funny. The first news telecast shows a person dying and the newscaster says “Wow, that was upsetting! We probably shouldn’t have shown that!” Appliances are animals and they have strong feelings about social classes. Barney is a lovable idiot.
Oh, and Carl Sargon launches a monkey into space.