The Glorkian Warrior Delivers a Pizza
By James Kochalka
First Second; $17.99
In writing about the heroic journey in his influential Hero With a Thousand Faces, pop comparative mythologist Joseph Campbell cited “the call to adventure” as the beginning of a mythic quest. James Kochalka’s Glorkian Warrior, a pink-skinned, three-eyed alien dude with a “super awesome” talking, laser-blasting back pack, receives his call to adventure on the telephone—and it orders a pizza.
Neither the Glorkian Warrior nor Super Backpack, who were both first introduced in Kochalka and Pixeljam’s Galaga-like video game Glorkian Warrior: The Trials of Glork, are pizza makers or pizza delivery guys. And they live in a base, not a pizzeria. But the Warrior feels it is his destiny to help all in need, even the guy who mistakenly called him up and ordered a pepperoni pizza. So The Glorkian Warrior straps on Super Backpack and decides to answer that call to adventure as best he can.
His “best” isn’t very good, however, as the only pizza he has is a leftover peanut butter and clams pizza in his fridge, or “The Hyper Fridge,” as the Warrior calls it in his hypberbolic manner, so he tries to deliver that. But the Glorkian Warrior isn’t all that bright, or particularly good at anything, having more enthusiasm and grit than brains or skills. For example, he gets into the Glorkian Supercar on page 16, and crashes it into a huge rock on page 17.
The pizza becomes less and less appealing as the surprisingly epic adventure goes on—circumstance adds tears, ashes, and the steering wheel of the the wrecked supercar “toppings,” and the pizza is repeatedly, accidentally re-cooked via laser blast and explosion. Nevertheless, the pizza is desired by various opponents, including a giant pink bonking alien named Glonk and a UFO with a pizza tractor beam, and the Warrior and Super Backpack defeat them via dumb luck, gradually converting most of their foes into friends (with the exception of The Magic Robot, who…well, I don’t want to spoil their encounter with The Magic Robot).
The plot is somewhat circular, resolving itself with a children’s book-like conclusion that alludes to an appropriately science fiction-esque explanation, which the Warrior is uninterested in…and probably wouldn’t understand anyway. But the plot is pretty secondary to the jokes and art, as is usually the case with Kochalka’s kids’ comics.
The jokes in this outing mostly revolve around the Warrior’s stupidity and ineffectuality, his strange slang and Glonk’s child-ish, Bizarro-like grammar, and the apparently universal desire for pizza. As for the art, it will be immediately recognizable as Kochakla’s to anyone who has ever read anything of Kochalka’s. It bears his brilliant coloring, his super-simple designs, his distinct (and colored) lettering and panel borders and deceptively simplistic character “acting,” which contains more range than one might think, given how few lines make up the faces of the strange characters.
Adult fans of Kochalka’s may take special interest in his new characters, which sees the application of his style to a new milieu. (Personally, I enjoyed watching how he conveyed emotion on a character with three eyes resting atop of his head, rather than having two eyes set within the face.)
And, like the older set, kids should find plenty of gentle, funny gags in this, ranging from verbal humor to slapstick to the Warrior’s boisterous subversion of genre conventions: When Super Backpack asks if they’re going to have “another awesome adventure” on the first page, the warrior responds, “I was thinking maybe I’d just sit here on the couch and rest tonight.”
I’m not sure if the Warrior’s entire pizza-delivery quest can be broken down into Campbell’s stages of the hero’s journey, but I’m fairly certain Campbell—or anyone else—would have fun reading this and trying to diagram it.