Bee and Puppycat (2014), by Natasha Allegri

Allegri - Bee and CatI found the second issue of this comic book lying about on the dining-room table, and thought I should probably avail myself of the opportunity to plunge into the depths of teendom. Fascinating place.

The covers of Bee and Puppycat are very young and very pink (generally more so than this issue), rather like Hello Kitty with a mutant dog-cat. You can see how questions arose: I was wondering why my 15-year-old daughter reads these. I then realized the underlying irony in the juxtaposition between image and attitude. Bingo. Irony and attitude sound like my girl.

There are only three characters in the volume I read: Bee, Puppycat, and the sentient computer, Temp-bot. We open with Temp-bot trying to understand why people would “own clothes you’re embarrassed of?” “They’re pajamas, Temp-bot!” Simple, and establishes Bee’s dominant role in the narrative. Yes, I am over analyzing this. Teen humour comes in when Bee explains to Temp-bot that “sleep is when you reboot your system and sometimes drool on yourself.”

TARDIS-like, Temp-bot carries Bee and Puppycat into another world… in this instance to fix a music box on Snowglobe Planet. Again, naïvely simplistic. I have to say, too, that apart from the odd quip from Puppycat (the Jeeves to Bee’s Wooster), the comic has little to recommend it.

Allegri - Bee and Cat page 1What I did find fascinating was that when Bee and Puppycat are trying to determine which music box is broken, the reader is required to access the internet through QR codes in music-box thought-bubbles. The first three work; the fourth apparently not. This is all we can tell without a QR reader app and smart-phone.

Allegri - Bee and Cat code 1The fourth (broken) QR code has—instead of music—rude bodily sounds. The pair fix the music box by telling a story with the figurines that have fallen out of it. When they construct the expected narrative (King in castle, Queen on throne, Princess in garden, Princeling in a crib), it doesn’t work. Only when they revise the story to have the Queen and Prince dead, and the King searching for his daughter, who is lost in the snow of the snow-globe, does the music box play a song. Fixed. The End.Allegri - Bee and Cat code 2

So I remain slightly confused about the actual audience for this comic: it is overly simplistic for teens, but contains some elements that are not necessarily appropriate for younger kids. (The second story in the issue is seemingly more mature, but completely meaningless… at least to me. I must remember to ask if it signifies anything to The Girl.) The only reason I am sharing this is because of the technologically interactive nature of the story. Perhaps I need to get out more.

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