Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Webcomic Worth Wreading, Entry Seventeen: Gronk

Families come in all shapes and sizes. Sometimes a person’s true family is not the one they were born into. Some families are made of a cute little runaway monster, the human woman who adopted her, a dog and cat. This is the makeup of Gronk.

Gronk is wholeheartedly sweet and optimistic. The characters enjoy life and are genuinely grateful for what they have. They get along well with one another, all trying to share the good things in life.

There’s a sharp edge to the sweetness, though. This unorthodox family may get along swimmingly with one another, but one can never forget the dangers of the real world. No one here is facing life-or-death situations on a regular basis, but they do have plenty of opportunities to get themselves into trouble.

Gronk herself resembles a walking chaos machine. She combines childlike innocence with no sense of propriety whatsoever, managing to achieve that devastating state of being simultaneously extremely cute and extremely destructive.

Some of Gronk’s idiosyncrasies come from being raised outside of human society. She genuinely doesn’t know how much of the human world works, because she hasn’t been exposed to it all her life. Certain cultural and technological constants that we all take for granted turn out to be entirely unfamiliar and require some level of explanation.

There is continuity to Gronk, but you can understand most installments without having read the whole story up to that point. I’d recommend reading from the beginning if you want to understand how Gronk came to be living with Dale, but if you’d rather just read it piecemeal, that’s okay too!

The backbone of the comic is definitely the growth of the connection between Gronk and Dale (the human), and by extension Gronk’s personal growth as she starts to assimilate to human culture. Jokes like the one above occur early on in the comic. As time passes, Gronk gets more and more used to human things and makes those kind of mistakes less frequently. Instead she makes other, more human, mistakes.

Gronk even learns to take things that had been used against her and turns them around onto Dale. For instance, early on she becomes familiar with a particular kind of discipline…

...which she then uses on Dale when she determines it is necessary.

What I love about this comic is the way it never loses sight of the important, wonderful things in life, while maintaining a feeling of honesty in regards to the things in life that cause pain. Fitting Gronk in to the human world can be hard. Dealing with pets can be hard. Trying to maintain traditions and do everything the way you feel you should can be hard. But those hardships, at the very least, are always sources of humor, and at their best, they reveal what is good about family, connections, and traditions, that keeps us coming back to them and makes them valuable.

I always find Gronk uplifting. It’s funny and endearing and one of the most adorable and heartwarming things I’ve ever seen. I recommend reading it if you have children in your life, and I recommend sharing it with them. My five-year-old nephew loves it, and so do I.

Also, it contains the correct instructions for how to play Monopoly.

Gronk is written and drawn by Katie Cook and updates on Fridays. It’s a pretty quick read, so I think I’d also recommend it to people who like comics but don’t have a lot of time to spend on them. Time’s a-waistin’, you busy comics lovers! Hop to it!

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