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The Comic Book Fools of April – Franklin Richards, Son of a Genius

Every day in April I will be featuring a humorous comic (either an issue or a series of strips) that I found particularly amusing. Feel free to e-mail me at bcronin@comicbookresources.com the comic stories that are your favorites when it comes to hilarity, and I’ll see if I can’t feature some of them this month, as well!

Today we look at Chris Eliopoulos and Marc Sumerak’s Franklin Richards: Son of a Genius!

Roughly speaking, Franklin Richards: Son of a Genius is a riff on Bill Watterson’s classic comic strip, Calvin and Hobbes, with Franklin Richards, son of the Fantastic Four’s Invisible Woman and Mr. Fantastic (the genius part of “Son of a Genius”) taking on the role of Calvin, and H.E.R.B.I.E. the robot serving as a substitute of sorts to Hobbes.

Of course, the comparison is not a perfect one, as H.E.R.B.I.E. is a bodyguard as well as Franklin’s friend, and unlike the misadventures that went on in Calvin’s imagination, the misadventures of Franklin and H.E.R.B.I.E. actually happen.

Other than that, though, Eliopoulos and Sumerak deftly capture that same blend of childhood innocence mixed with childhood mischievousness.

When you live with a father who invents new fantastical devices every day, there’s plenty of ways to get into trouble, and Franklin seems to try to get into all sorts of trouble all at once.

Marvel released about fourteen Franklin Richards one-shots over a series of four years. Each one-shot has about three to four stories in it. It seems as though the series has just about run its course, but hopefully we’ll see more of it!

Besides Franklin and H.E.R.B.I.E., a notable supporting character is Katie Power (of Power Pack fame). She is introduced into the series quite nicely…

So you can see the general vein of these strips – Franklin gets into trouble, hilarity ensues. It’s really well-done.

Here’s a slightly goofier story introducing a new adversary for Franklin…

Sumerak and Eliopoulos really did a remarkable job on this series.

These comics have been collected into a series of “Ultimate Collections.” Go get ‘em all!

11 Comments

This was pretty funny thanks

I don’t suppose these are collected anywhere, perchance…?

They have been collected into a series of digests. I just added that part in! :)

Hah! Nice reference there when Katie shouted “Paaaaaack!” And Kristoff, for those who don’t know, was Doom’s ward/possible host body.

We may not have new C&H anymore, but we have these. Thanks, Sumerak and Eliopoulos! :)

I believe that the digest collections are mostly out of print. Instead, look for the recent two-volume “Ultimate Collections” with slightly bigger page dimensions than digests.

I didn’t know that about the digests. Thanks for the head’s up!

I wish they would print these in the back of other Marvel comics again. It was great to buy an issue and then suddenly find a free story included.

While admiring the look and feel of these stories I was never comfortable with them. They seem far beyond a “riff” on Calvin & Hobbes, almost more derivative to the point of a ripoff.

Reminds me of all the millions of “peeing Calvin” car decals and unlicensed C&H t-shirts I’ve seen over the years, of the characters that Bill Watterson has always resisted “cheapening” by product licensing, TV shows etc. An unusual choice but his to make. And how much has Marvel made on these “tribute” characters? When do the toys and t-shirts arrive? Marvel does own Franklin Richards, Herbie and so on. I heard a podcast interview with Eliopoulos (on “Word Balloon” I think) and he didn’t once mention Watterson or C&H being a factor or inspiration. Maybe he was under legal advice not to?

I just don’t think it’s in particularly good taste, maybe that’s just me. There might be a lot I don’t know about it, does anyone know of Watterson’s reactions to this work?

LOVE these. They’re awesome. And canonical as far as I’m concerned. Part of my own personal continuity anyway.

The art is pretty similar, but the writing doesn’t seem anything like Calvin and Hobbes.

[…] possible, but I guess we all have different priorities. You can check out a preview of the comics here, and I promise it’s the kind of children’s book even adults can — no, should […]

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