Mad Science

 MADY   (Amaze Ink, 2001)

™ and ©2001 Jon Bean Hastings

Santa Cruz, Calif., is a bizarre place, or so Mad Science writer and artist Jon “Bean” Hastings would have readers believe. Hastings established himself through his first project, Smith Brown Jones, Alien Accountant, and here, he tackles similar extraterrestrial themes.

The story opens with the ravings of a mad scientist, Dr. Mondo, who has discovered that someone has taken his prized possession, his brain-in-a-jar. The scene then changes to a typical slice-of-life story, involving high-school transfer student Frank, his new friend ’Lex, geeky Squid, and their two friends. As the story progresses, the brain-in-a-jar contacts Frank for help, the students take a field trip to Santa Cruz’ bizarre landmark, the Mystery Spot, and Dr. Mondo sends giant, mutated animals after the group to retrieve his brain.

It’s obvious that Jones loves Santa Cruz. According to the notes, Jones spent a lot of time taking reference photos of the area and visiting several Santa Cruz landmarks, the Mystery Spot among them.

Hastings draws Mad Science in a cartoony style. Backgrounds are sparse, but characters are fluid and expressive. Scenes with Frank and his friends are well scripted and more humorous than scenes with Mondo. Mad scientist parodies are a dime a dozen, and Hastings does nothing to distinguish Mondo from a thousand others. Other than this drawback, Mad Science is well worth picking up.

— Steve Horton

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