One of my favorite things about working as a reviewer is when I get to discover comics which hover under my radar.
The Fuhrer and the Tramp is one of those unexpected breakthroughs.
Written, designed and lettered by Sean McArdle, with scripting by Jon Judy and art by Dexter Wee, The Fuhrer and the Tramp tells a story that could actually have happened: In the run-up to World War II, Charlie Chaplin is one of the most popular comedians in the world, and a near lookalike for Adolf Hitler. In 1939, Chaplin humiliates Hitler in a slapstick game of cat and mouse while visiting Berlin. Chaplin manages to leave Berlin with his life intact, but the trip will change his life: President Roosevelt asks Charlie to make a movie that represents a reflection of great American values. As part of the effort, the great filmic Tramp has a series of breathtaking adventures with the equally iconic Errol Flynn and Hedy Lamar – and embarks on a thrilling and wild adventure yarn that I just didn’t want to see end.
As The Fuhrer and the Tramp moves ahead, readers are swept along with a series of wild adventures which seem both totally appropriate and totally realistic. There are hysterical scenes of pirate assaults and daring cliff climbs mixed with more realistic scenes of filmmaking. There are slapstick scenes in which Chaplin humiliates himself in front of FDR and spooky scenes of Hitler bloviating. There also are scenes displaying heart and energy that illuminate character.
McArdle and team do a wonderful job juggling slapstick and serious along with clever and deft characterization. Chaplin is alternatingly a coward and a hero, Flynn a blowhard who is good with a sword and gun, and Lamarr is smart, confident and brave. They’re an awesomely entertaining trio, befitting their huge movie stardom during an era when movie stars were the most glamorous people in the world.
Wee’s black and white wash art is a perfect companion for the thrilling, slapstick script. He’s talented at both humorous and action scenes, delivering delightful depictions of these iconic Americans while they fly prop planes, escape shark infested waters or battle against pirates.
The Fuhrer and the Tramp was one of the most fun surprises I’ve had this year. I had no idea what to expect from this oddball concept, but this turned out to be a perfect end-of-summer blockbuster.
For more on this comic, click here.