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Review: “Deflocked” by Jeff Corriveau

Title: Deflocked
Creator: Jeff Corriveau
Syndicate: King Features
Launch Date: May 5, 2008
Rating (out of 5): Three Stars

King Features launched it’s second feature of the year yesterday with Deflocked by Jeff Corriveau. The feature sports a cast of four characters, a wayward sheep named Mamet, Cobb, the morally centered dog, Rupert a naive, but devoted companion, and Tucker a “peculiar” boy raised by the dogs.

Jeff cut his comedic teeth doing comedy writing for television. His credits include contributions to “Saturday Night Live”, “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” and as head writer for “Talk Soup”. Such a background explains his mastery of the three panel set up, build and punch-line delivery. The three panel dailies are Jeff’s strongest suit.

While I enjoyed the daily writing, I couldn’t help but compare the Deflocked characters Mamet and Rupert to Get Fuzzy’s Bucky and Satchel. The sarcastic sheep, Mamet, is rough, rude and insulting to the other characters, but in the comparison, Bucky wins as a deeper, more callous character. Perhaps it is more believable that a cat could be more cruel than a sheep.

As mentioned, Deflock launched yesterday in papers such as The Arizona Republic, Chicago Sun-Times, Detroit Free Press, Orange County Register, Rocky Mountain News, Seattle Post-Intelligencer and St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Community Comments

#1 Michael Shonk
May/6/2008
@ 9:06 am

I like the idea of reviewing comic strips but I had problem with this one. I think judging a comic on the second day of existence is too soon. I’d rather see reviews of comics over a year old. I don’t see the problem of Mamet being like Bucky. Both are an established character type such as the bumbling single male. Rude, insulting, sarcastic funny animal type can be found all over the comics page. I’d like to see a rating for each of the four basic parts of the comic, writing, characters, premise, art.
Again I like the idea, it is time we pay attention to lesser talked about comics and not wait (as we did for “Lucky Cow” and “Preteena”) until they end.

#2 lefitte
May/6/2008
@ 9:20 am

You can see more on Jeff’s site than just two days. http://www.deflocked.com

I liked it a lot. Good character design and clever writing. It took a hit with me only because it felt a bit too mean-spirited throughout. I give it 4 of 5.

#3 Wiley Miller
May/6/2008
@ 9:20 am

I agree. Unless you have a sales kit that editors receive from the syndicate, containing 3 or 4 weeks worth of material, daily and Sunday, along with information about the strip and its characters, one cannot possibly make a fair assessment of the feature. This is why those polls done by newspapers to select a new comic are so moronic and unfair to all cartoonists, as well as the readers.

#4 Alan Gardner
May/6/2008
@ 9:45 am

I think judging a comic on the second day of existence is too soon. Iâ??d rather see reviews of comics over a year old.

Actually, this review (as with all my reviews) are based on the sales kit sent to me by the syndicate – the same promotional material sent to newspaper editors. I see, as Wiley suggested, a month worth of dailies and Sundays, the bio and character sheets before writing anything.

Not all features are equal. Just because one reaches a certain professional level to be considered for syndication, doesn’t mean they’re home-runs. If they were, there wouldn’t be so many that end within the first few years.

My reviews are a snapshot of what I feel the feature brings (or not) to the funny pages on their release date. Like lefitte (who should be using his first and last name), you’re free to disagree and rate the comic yourself here in the comment section.

I should note that I have tried to provide a review for every feature that is launched, but due to time constraints on my my part, I have not been able to do so. A non-reviewed feature doesn’t necessarily mean I didn’t like it.

#5 Wiley Miller
May/6/2008
@ 10:00 am

Glad to hear that, Alan. I didn’t think you would be making an assessment based on just a couple of editions.

#6 josh shalek
May/6/2008
@ 11:41 am

…and Get Fuzzy, in turn, has almost exactly the same character set-up as Garfield. Yet those two strips couldn’t be more different in tone.

I like the reviews of new strips. This website is generally the first place I learn about new comic strips.

It would be neat to review more established strips. Say, the last year’s worth of a particular comic, written up like a book review. But there’s only one Alan, and so many comics.

#7 Stacy Curtis
May/6/2008
@ 12:32 pm

>>Josh wrote: “…But thereâ??s only one Alan, and so many comics.”

That’s what you think. Alan has clones. I’ve seen them. Isn’t that right, Alan #1,483?

#8 William Nye
May/6/2008
@ 2:38 pm

I checked out this guy’s website over the weekend. Amazing stuff. His writing alone gets a five out of five from me. The art work might knock me down to a 4 or 4.5, but hey, I go for strips that make me laugh, not ooh and ahh.

I dug through his news link and apparently this strip has been endorsed by Larry David. Yeah – THAT Larry David. As a huge “Curb” fan, that really impressed me. I’m looking forward to what this strip is bringing to the table, and I think we’re going to hear a lot about it in the future.

#9 Garey Mckee
May/6/2008
@ 3:10 pm

The writing in these strips is stellar. Not suprising for a professional comedy writer.

As Lefitte had pointed out, the character design struck me as well. For example, I like the 3d quality of Cobb’s nose on his snout in the three quarter and front views. I know it’s kind of a little nit picky thing, but those are the types of things I like to look at when I look at a character. How that sort of quality will translate when drastically shrunk and smearly printed on a newspaper page is a different story altogether. LOL!

#10 mark mason
May/6/2008
@ 6:44 pm

I agree with the comparison of Mamet to Bucky. Another similar character would be Rat from Pearls Before Swine. Rupert seems a lot like Pig.

#11 Malc McGookin
May/6/2008
@ 8:15 pm

I can understand why some would be tentative about this strip, endorsed by Larry David or not.

Beyond the blind whoohoo-way-to-go reactions that usually accompany a launch, there has to be something more solid, and I’m not impressed with this work at all.

The payoff in panel 3 is too obviously flagged in Panel 1 and it becomes tiresome.
I read this work with the voice of Festus from Gunsmoke in my ear. He was constantly squeaking “Look, theer’s a PunchLINE a-comin'”!

The design of the kid, the backstory that he’s been raised by dogs….the list of reservations goes on.

The gag about the kid finding a book of Ancient Wisdom? Where would he find that? I know we have a wisecracking sheep alongside a talking dog, but those are par for the course in cartoons. An urban boy finding a book of Ancient Wisdom is a stretch. If you can’t tell the difference, you’re in trouble.

Wizard of Id could find a book of Ancient Wisdom – no problem, it’s a strip set in fairy tale cliches. If Satchel found one, then you know Bucky forged it.

There’s a lot to be ironed out here, and the drawing isn’t the biggest wrinkle.

#12 M.W. Wellstone
May/6/2008
@ 8:30 pm

I have to agree with earlier posts, Deflocked has too much in common, both in tone and character set up, with Get Fuzzy and Pearls Before Swine.

Personally, I prefer the originals too.

#13 Alex Hallatt
May/7/2008
@ 1:31 am

At least the characters leave their apartment…

#14 Malc McGookin
May/7/2008
@ 5:23 am

…but they might as well be in an apartment, don’t you think? The gags don’t require them to be anywhere else.

I’m not impressed with the drawing, and I’ve only just noticed there are TWO dogs. One is obviously the Satchel type and the other is sorta Brian from Family Guy? I don’t know, I’m guessing.

Another thing which illustrates how it would be good to have someone independent overlooking this whole concept and report back to the creator is the fact that if you click on the website headings, each page has a giant dildo at the top.
It’s supposed to be a shepherd’s crook, I’m sure, but seeing as shepherds ride quad bikes these days, who knows?

I think this should be the extent of my “review”, I can’t help but get seriously p*ssed off at this exercise in smart-assery and King Features p*sses me off generally. I’m probably not being objective.

#15 Garey Mckee
May/7/2008
@ 1:50 pm

The question is, how much difference can there by between characers in different strips? They are all pretty much simplifications and exxagerations of observed personality traits. They wouldn’t be cartoons if they weren’t.

Deflocked may subscribe to those few personality standards that exist all over the comics page, and it also may subscribe to the standard 3 panel comic strip pacing so prevalent today. Is that really so bad? And if you’re saying that it is that bad, does that mean you are disappointed in all the other strips on the page these days too? Why even read the pages at all then. You may not like the work, but you don’t have to dump all over it. At least be somewhat constructive in your critique.

#16 Michael Shonk
May/7/2008
@ 2:13 pm

Alan, all of us appreciate what you are doing for our favorite art form, the comic strip.
I am tired of bad comics getting so much attention when very good cartoonists are ignored. As a former professional critic, I understand how time consuming it is to write a review. Have you considered adding a “guest comic”? Each day a comic provided free by one of the syndicates would run here for one week. Each week a different comic from a different syndicate would appear. You could barter a banner ad for the syndicate. This would promote forgotten comic strips at little cost. You could start each newsday items with the comic using it like a bookmark for the day. Problem, would cartoonists mind giving one week of work free here tp promote their work?

#17 Evan Roth
May/7/2008
@ 2:32 pm

I agree with what Gary said, and what Michael said at the beginning of this whole thread. Ease up. The characters Corriveau uses are all standard comedy types. And used quite well, I might add. No one lays any claim to the “dumb” character or the “sharp cynical” character. In fact, Stephan Pastis himself admitted in an old interview that Rat and Pig share an identical characterization/relationship model to Darbey Conley’s Bucky and Satchel. I don’t think anyone marched on Pastis’s home with torches after hearing that.

I looked through the four dozen or so samples on DeFlocked’s site with a very critical eye, and I have to say I am just short of being knocked over. This strip has got legs and it’s going to run. The main dynamic seems to be between the crazy sheep and the moralistic dog, not the dumb one, anyway, so I don’t understand the vitriol here. The Cobb-Mamet relationship is as classic as Ralph-Alice Kramden, Homer-Marge and Seinfeld-Costanza. Let’s just hold onto the scalpels and wait a while.

#18 Michael Shonk
May/7/2008
@ 3:06 pm

I like “DeFlocked” alot (BTW check out its tie in to PETA). The writing is strong enough to keep me interested while the characters slowly develop over time. The premise is close to “Over The Hedge”, but so what? The only thing today’s reader wants from his or her comic is to be funny. My only concern is the art, especially Mamet’s face. It is often hard to see Mamet’s face, this could limit the artist’s ability to help tell the day’s gag.
But little of that is important. Will the writing hold up over time? Will the characters more fully develop? Will the art grow with experience? Will “DeFlocked” take its place among the best of the “funny animal” comic strips?

#19 Malc McGookin
May/7/2008
@ 3:51 pm

Evan and Garey:
This is a strip which has been launched. It’s been chosen by a major syndicate as representative of its standards and is being sold to newspapers all over the US and overseas.
It’s not the effort of a student trying to find their feet in a hostile environment, or the first scratchings of someone trying to raise money for charity.

This isn’t the sandpit at the local day care, this is the real world.

I put my work up all the time to be criticized whenever I start a commission or send a cartoon to Readers Digest.

On the subject of a guest cartoon from a syndicate? Fuggedaboudit.
I don’t see why this site should advertise existing projects, most of the stuff on the comics pages is garbage, so why spend paragraphs describing precisely why?

#20 lefitte
May/7/2008
@ 4:37 pm

I like the strip, but it might be premature to say it has “legs and is going to run.”

#21 Michael Shonk
May/7/2008
@ 5:18 pm

Malc,
While it is ok to judge a comic on launch date (after all newspaper editors are), one must do so with an eye for possible future improvements. Look at how Snoopy of “Peanuts” changed and developed over the years. A comic can not be reviewed like a book. Once printed a book is forever; a comic changes everyday, sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse. I see a better future for “DeFlocked” than I have seen for any other comic launched this year.

#22 Malc McGookin
May/7/2008
@ 6:21 pm

Michael, you can’t have your cake and eat it.

“While it is ok to judge a comic on launch date (after all newspaper editors are), one must do so with an eye for possible future improvements”

Correct, editors judge by the evidence on launch day just like us, but they DON’T keep an eye on possible future improvements and neither will the KFS sales people. It’ll get one go and if it doesn’t sell to more than fifty large-ish papers in its first push, it’ll stay in the salesperson’s bag from then on.

Peanuts was always good, though the drawing style of the characters evolved. Schulz was a skilled cartoonist before he even began Peanuts.

We’re not comparing like with like.

#23 Linc Paulsen
May/7/2008
@ 7:42 pm

I think Deflocked is a strip that will become a fixture in the KFS salesperson’s bag. I don’t see it as a big initial hit.

Universal Press’s Lio had a much larger launch by nearly six times the number of papers King Features is claiming for Deflocked. Argyle Sweater has had a more successful launch as well according to Universal’s press release.

#24 Garey Mckee
May/7/2008
@ 7:48 pm

Malc,

Being critical of a strip’s format or content is fine, I would just caution some professionalism while doing so.

#25 William Nye
May/7/2008
@ 8:00 pm

Linc,

Where did you see launch numbers for this strip? I’ve never seen anything put out there by King, other than the “initial clients include…” stuff.

#26 Michael Shonk
May/7/2008
@ 9:17 pm

Malc
If you wish anyone to seriously consider your review of a new comic you need to look at the possible future of the comic and beyond one month. Even editors often reconsider and buy a strip years after its launch.
I wonder where you got the idea that a launch of under 50 papers dooms a strip forever? Considering today’s shrinking market fifty is not as low as it used to be.
Few strips are an immediate success. I used “Peanuts” Snoopy as an example of how most comics change. But “Peanuts” was not an immediate success either. In the beginning “Peanuts” was heavily infuenced by Percy Crosby’s “Skippy” and it was years before it became the popular hit we remember.
“DeFlocked” tie in with PETA could keep it under consideration by editors after its launch.
Next time we talk I’ll bring you a piece of cake.

#27 William Nye
May/7/2008
@ 9:44 pm

Never mind. Once again, thank you Google search:

http://www.qconline.com/archives/qco/display.php?id=385228

Linc, if this is true, then your math has Lio’s launch at over 600 papers.

I don’t see the King sales team putting DeFlocked back in their bag any time soon.

#28 Malc McGookin
May/7/2008
@ 10:19 pm

Garey, I’m a professional cartoonist, not a professional critic.
The fact remains that we’re talking about the launch by a major syndicate of a business venture.
Two or three syndicates control the whole of the newspaper feature business and have done for decades.
In this case I am as “professional” as I can bring myself to be.

Michael, PETA’s involvement is completely irrelevant. The central character in this strip is a sheep, a breed of animal whose babies we kill and eat every day, as well as ship inhumanely overseas as mutton on the hoof.

I don’t remember any of the strips concerned referring to these issues, or aiming well chosen darts at the meat production industry, so for the life of me I can’t see why PETA would want to be involved.

#29 Malc McGookin
May/7/2008
@ 10:21 pm

Lemon cheesecake for me please.

#30 Mike Lester
May/8/2008
@ 2:32 pm

First, I was disappointed to learn the strip was NOT about a pedophilic priest. I hope I’m in the right discussion.

Second, what’s w/ the “easy up” demand? It’s a competitive world. Need proof? Get a birdfeeder and watch it.

Mr. Corriveau (french Canadian for “Man who Loves Sheep”) is a big boy and I doubt criticism cowers him. It might even be beneficial.

Lastly, and nobody asked but the gags appear a little “telegraphed” and the art a bit sophomoric for my taste. The PETA tie-in looks like a great big black and white pander.

Success should always be based on merit. Period.

#31 Malc McGookin
May/8/2008
@ 2:35 pm

“The PETA tie-in looks like a great big black and white pander.”

Or black and white panda.

#32 Michael Shonk
May/8/2008
@ 4:51 pm

What the PETA tie in does is keep the strip in front of editors. Many editors check newsworthy sites such as PETA while barely staying awake for some poor syndicate salesman. The strip sales does not depend totally on the syndicate.
I have this wonderful picture of some newspaper editor hiding under his desk to avoid three people demanding “Mary Worth” only to then have to deal with the PETA crowd.

#33 R Pyle
May/9/2008
@ 9:26 am

If this truly does have a PETA tie-in, I won’t even bother reading it. I’m sick of those goons.

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