3 out of 4 stars
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CHiP 4! is the fourth installment of Jens Pindal's comic strip compilations. It follows a young boy named Chip and his imaginary friends, especially Zort, an odd-looking blue creature with a penchant for sarcasm. Much of the comedy comes from the contrast between Chip's simple-mindedness and Zort's cynicism.
First impressions are somewhat deceptive when it comes to this series. Despite the simple premise and cartoonish visuals, the strips don't shy away from the occasional dark humor, sexual innuendos, references to drugs, and controversial topics. As such, the book is suitable for a young adult audience that can handle slightly more mature content.
The comedy is a mix of Calvin and Hobbes and internet culture around the early 2000s: puns, witty remarks, slapstick, and a few doses of absurdity. It's the sort of thing I would have loved to read back in the heydays of Newgrounds and similar websites. Even though my tastes have changed a lot, however, I still chuckled at some jokes. I even thought a couple of them were brilliant.
That said, though humor is very subjective and challenging to critique, some jokes came across as lazy and repetitive. For example, the same back-and-forth dialogue between two characters is repeated twice with minor variations. This isn't a particularly original joke in the first place, and it also doesn't work as a running gag since there are no interesting twists or a clever punchline. A few strips even point out these flaws and engage in a bit of self-deprecation, but the simple act of acknowledging the problems, while slightly amusing, doesn't make up for them.
Presentation-wise, the simple but effective illustrations add a lot of charm to the strips with creative character designs, comically exaggerated expressions, and a vibrant color palette. As for editing issues, the author never uses apostrophes for possessive forms; this is even stranger considering how these are the only blatant errors in the entire book. I did contemplate whether this was a stylistic choice, but I don't know what it's meant to accomplish.
CHiP 4! is a fun little book that will likely entertain young readers and those who are young at heart. The strips are mostly stand-alone, so you don't need to read the previous books. Even disregarding the questionable omissions of apostrophes, however, I would still deduct a point for the low-effort jokes and the fact that my sense of humor isn't all that compatible with the series. So my final rating is 3 out of 4 stars. The book isn't very suitable for small children or readers who dislike juvenile comedy.
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