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Issue 47: Fish Police

Mike: I'm not going near that with the Ten Football no.

Jessika: 100%. Hello and welcome to Tencent Takes, the podcast where we cast our line into the vast ocean that is comic books one issue at a time. My name is Jessica Fraser, and I'm joined by my co host, the Curious cuttlefish, Mike Thompson.

Mike: I don't know. That seems like something a fish might make, as us known.

Jessika: Very appropriate. Well, the purpose of this podcast is to study comic books in ways that are both fun and informative. We want to look at their coolest, weirdest, and silliest moments as well as examine how they're woven into the larger fabric of pop culture and history. Now, if you're enjoying the show so far and want to help us grow, it'd be a huge help if you'd rate and or review us on Apple podcasts, because that really helps with Discoverability. On today's episode, we're going to be discussing the fish police, it's aquatic creation, the Tumultuous publication history, where else? It flipped its fins into other sources of media, and we may even have some current events to report.

Mike: Oh, man. I've basically tried to go into this as cold as possible. I read the comics and that's about it. I knew a little bit about one of the pieces of media, but I am now on the edge of my seat. If there's current adaptations in the works, this is going to be fascinating.

Jessika: We'll get into it. But before we do that, Mike, what is one cool thing that you have read or watched lately?

Mike: I recently picked up the first issue of Specs from Boom, and it is written by David M, um Bouhr, who I believe wrote Rain, which is the comic you discussed last week on Dollar Bin Discoveries.

Jessika: Yeah.

Mike: It is illustrated by Chris Sheehan, colored by Roman Stevens and lettered by Jim Campbell. And it's basically this dark, fantasy kind of thriller that's bordering on a horror. Uh, you know, it's a little hard to tell just from the first issue. The story is about these two best friends, Kenny and Ted in the small 1980s Ohio town. And Kenny's gay, but he's not out yet. And Ted is black. And they're often targeted at their high school by like, bullies of different kinds. There's a school bully, there's the administrative bullies as well. And the whole thing is that they're kind of these sort of outsiders who are really tight and best friends, and it's really charming to see their relationship before things really start kicking. But then Kenny receives these weird magic mail order sunglasses that were originally in an ad for an old comic book.

Jessika: Mhm.

Mike: But the thing is that he never sent away for them. They just arrived on his doorstep one day. And so it turns out that they actually grant wishes and the two of them start wishing for things like $100 or to throw a baseball faster and their lives start improving like they can only make these small wishes, but they start actually having a profound effect on their lives. Mhm, but the thing is that there's this kind of ominous air over everything and then they have another run in with this bully who showed up earlier and that run in winds up changing their lives dramatically. And so I'm not going to spoil the twist, obviously, but the first issue just came out earlier this month. The second issue is, I think, going to drop in the next week or two. Maybe. I can't say enough good things about this. It feels dark and cool and mysterious. And also Kenny's closeted story is just heartbreaking in certain ways. And so I'm absolutely enamored with it. And all the variant covers are so good too. There's one that's like an homage to that old movie, uh, they Live, which is great too. So I'm like absolutely in love with it.

Jessika: Oh, that sounds so great. I'm going to have to check that one out.

Mike: It's really good. I'm really looking forward to the series. If there were more issues, I'm pretty sure this would be like my favorite new series of the year. It's just the problem is it's a little too early to tell, but it's really good.

Jessika: Yeah. Oh, uh, that's so cool.

Mike: Yeah. So what about you?

Jessika: So what about me? Well, I had picked up, uh, now Outer Planes moved at one point recently, like what? In the last few months. And they moved from one location in Arizona to another.

Mike: Yeah, it was like June. June or July. No, July. I think it was July. Like they had the month long sale during June because you and I went there. Sarah and I went there. Um.

Jessika: Not only did I go with Mike, I also went with two other people who by the way, they both bailed part of the way through. They were like, yeah, I guess I've seen what I'm going to see. And then dipped.

Mike: Jessica and I were each other's comic shopping dates, who stuck it out the whole time. It was pretty funny. Even Sarah, who's really good about that, man. I think we were there for like an hour and she was like, all right, I'm getting hungry. And I'm like, fine. We made it through half the boxes, but okay, fine.

Jessika: I'm going to say that's nothing. Well, I picked up because they had sales on everything. I picked up a few trade paperbacks and one of the ones I picked up was the first two volumes of Radiant Black.

Mike: Oh man. Um, yeah, I have read some of that. Um, it's funny because a lot of the podcasts that we're friends with will not stop talking about it. I know Lance from comic bookkeepers. It's one of his favorite series because I think it's kind of got a very Power Rangers vibe.

Jessika: It really does. It very much does. Yeah. Different, uh, colors. Uh, it's a neat concept. I like the idea of kind of this void and the void being the catalyst for your powers. Um, and there being like a color attached to it. And I'm not probably far enough into it to know that whether or not the color means anything because they've just kind of come across this other color of like they're like, oh my gosh, that person looks like me. And come to find out the person's, like, doing crime. So it's like drama, right? So it's super interesting. I'm definitely really excited. Like I said, I picked up the first two volumes and I'm probably a good third of the way through the first volume. So I'll be sitting down and probably taking a chill pill tomorrow with some comics and that'll be one of them.

Mike: Nice. I, uh, am also going to be reading comic books tomorrow because I am not going with the family for Thanksgiving because someone foolishly got a dog right before this who is too young to have all of his shots. So we can't take him outside yet. Mhm.

Jessika: Hope somebody's got to stay back. Oh my gosh. So you're just hanging out by yourself?

Mike: Well, yes, but I'm also hanging out with dogs. And I got Costco pizza for myself tonight and comic books and video games. My favorite thing about all this is I've told multiple people and they're like, oh, and they sound really sad and kind of confused. And m, I'm like, everything's fine. I'm like, I don't think you understand how much I'm looking forward to just having a data myself to just goof off.

Jessika: Oh, no, 100%. When you put it that way, absolutely. I guess I just forget that not everybody goes home and there's nobody else in your house like me, which is great. I'm like, bring it in, Carl. We're great. I have to deal with my brother on the property, but it's like, I still have a door. I still have my own house.

Mike: Yeah, we were recording this the day before Thanksgiving.

Jessika: Yeah, exactly. If you're wondering what that was about. Well, uh, what do you say we float out into our main topic?

Mike: Sure. Man, this was a trip.

Jessika: This was indeed a trip. I'll take our listeners through this trip as well. What do you think?

Mike: Yeah, I think that would probably be appreciated.

Jessika: So at the top, some resources for you. Wikipedia's article on the Fish Police comics and Gasp animated series, hannah Barberafandom dot com's article on Fish Police and I'll name a couple more throughout the episode as they come up. Picture it. It was June of 1985 when a publisher by the name of Fishwrap Productions first swam onto the scene, publishing the first issue of Fish Police. Now, this comic was the brainchild of cartoonist Steve Monkus, who had worked on titles like Xmen Unlimited, Iron Man, and Avengers. In the year 3000, Fish Police was a self published comic and was initially in black and white after eleven issues through Fish Wrap Productions. The title was picked up in mid 1987 by Comico, who not only reprinted issues number one through four in a collected trade titled Hairballs, but also reprinted the remaining issues. In addition, they added a prequel and a number twelve to wrap the story together.

Mike: You know what's funny, though, is that I've actually heard of Fish Wrap before.

Jessika: Had you really?

Mike: I didn't actually know anything about Fish Police, but they published the Salmon Max Freelance Police special from the 80s.

Jessika: Okay.

Mike: That was like a big thing for a while. It, uh, was this big collector's item, and I knew about it because that.

Jessika: Came up as an advertisement. Yeah.

Mike: And so that was the thing. I knew about Sam Amax because I played the Lucas Hearts Adventure game, and then I knew it was a comic book. I eventually found a copy of that book and thought it was really cool. And then, obviously, one of my few credits in the comic book industry is I did production work on the reprint that Telltale Games did. So, um, I'm, um, relatively well versed in that. But that also explains why later on in Fish Police, they talk about how an upcoming issue preview image was drawn by Steve Purcell, who was the creator of Salmon Max.

Jessika: Yeah, right. Well, Comico continued to publish new issues of Fish Police through number 17, which was the last issue they were able to publish prior to the company going bankrupt in June of 1989.

Mike: There was a lot of that back then.

Jessika: There was. There definitely was. At which point the title was picked up by Apple Press, which continued the run, but in black and white again until the series ended at issue number 26. In early 1991, Apple Press also released an Issue Zero, featuring an early draft of the short stories from issues number one through five. And then the big M M dove into the picture. Marvel picked up the series, reprinting the first six issues in color. At the same time, Apple published a six issue spinoff called Fishsticks, which was written by monkeys and drawn by Steve Hawk and is described as more gag based than the previous series. And then there was nothing, just a vast ocean of emptiness until 20 years later, in 2010, when Monkeys began working on a continuation of Fish Police. Also set 20 years in the future in that timeline, but I haven't been able to find it anywhere. So unclear whether it got published and it's hard to find, or the alternative that it just doesn't exist and didn't actually come to fruition. In 2011, IDW reprinted the first few original issues published by Fisherp into a trade paperback, which is the version that I came across at that same moving sale at that local comic shop in Santa Rosa Outer Plains.

Mike: Was I there when you bought that? I'm pretty sure that I was like, oh, yeah, I've heard of that.

Jessika: I held it up and was like, I don't know what this is, but I need it. And you were like, I've heard of it and you should probably pick it up.

Mike: Yeah, that sounds like us enabling each other.

Jessika: Yeah, let's just say that each time I went into that place, I said, oh, I had also better buy, uh, a short box to go with that.

Mike: Yeah.

Jessika: It'S a bummer that the rest of the original collection hasn't been put into trade beyond those four first issues, but the copies are relatively inexpensive online, as both Mike and I have discovered. Because you did a little bit of digging on Ebay for some of these.

Mike: Yeah, I was just wondering, like, how much the original issues go for and you can buy lots of them, including number one, for less than $10 and they're not in ratty condition.

Jessika: Mhm, yeah, that is true.

Mike: It kind of makes sense though, because this was the era where indie black and white comics were really going through a boom. And when we were doing our DND episodes and talking about the realm, that was that same era where for a little while they were really moving serious numbers for comics like that. And then in the late 80s, there was sort of this implosion of the black and white indie comic scene, which was kind of prefacing what eventually happened to mainstream comics a few years later in the early 90s.

Jessika: Right? Yeah, I definitely think that all of these things kind of had to do with how maybe less than mainstream fishplace ended up being in the long run. And there was actually one final newer comic that was published in Dark Horse Presents, issue number 22 in March of 2013 titled FPBC. And I have no idea what that story is about because I haven't been able to find it online to read it.

Mike: I am willing to bet that was some kind of playoff of the BPRD from hellboy.

Jessika: Oh, okay. Makes sense.

Mike: Um, my guess is because, uh, Manualla actually did some preview art for them, too, and one of their issues, so my guess is they they had something to do with that. It's probably like a gag or something, but who knows?

Jessika: Yeah, exactly. And one more thing to add is that back on August 13 of this year of our Lord Beyonce 2022, an article on downtubes. Net published an article titled Steve Monkeys'fish Police set to Swim back into Action, which teases that yet again, moncuse will be bringing us the Fish Police series 30 years later, and also 30 years later for the world of Fish Police. Now, I'm not sure if we'll actually see anything in the future with Fish Police because we've danced this dance before. Um, but I think it would be interesting to see what Monkey's comes up with on this property so far from the time of its initial creation.

Mike: You burned us before monkeys. Seriously, monkey, come on the show and talk to us about this. I would love to ask all sorts of questions.

Jessika: Exactly. So that was a lot of bouncing around with publication. And what's interesting is that along with shifts in style, like adding or removing color from the original black and white, there were also shifts in how the comics were worded or how they appeared on the page. There was a great article I read during my research on this topic titled Monkeys's Fish Police are, uh, Back on Patrol, written by Sean Manning on December 21, 2010, on the wonderful resource that is And Moncuse was interviewed for the article and had the following to say about the tone shift.

Mike: Some of the dialogue has changed through the years. Back in the took out most of the quote rougher language. But the only reason I was using that kind of language in the first place was that I was 24. And besides, if other people could swear in comics, then, by golly, so could I. That's about as salty as my language gets these days. It's a maturity thing and it's a Christian thing.

Jessika: Yeah. Ah, I thought that was really interesting that even he agreed with that kind of tone shift in the language shift. M. So, as a heads up, there were many versions like we mentioned. I think you and I read the first few issues from different versions I sent you to a spot to check out the re released and cleaned up version.

Mike: I was reading the original ones. I was reading the original ones.

Jessika: You pulled the original ones, not the ones from the that I had sent you.

Mike: Um, I thought I'd grab the ones that you sent me, but the ones.

Jessika: That I sent you were not the original ones. That's what I'm telling you. They were reprinted and they were the cleaned up black and white version. So my version looked it had different wording for some of the things than yours did.

Mike: Okay.

Jessika: Because I did some comparisons between my version and the version that I sent you. There was some differences.

Mike: Okay?

Jessika: I know. Kind of wild, huh?

Mike: Yeah.

Jessika: Now, before we talk about the innards of the comic itself and the version we read, let's go through the other form of media Fishplace found itself in. And that was TV first broadcast on CBS in 1992 and supposed to last a whopping six episodes over one season. Now, I said supposed to. This production was created through that cartoon factory that was Hannah Barbera. Now, again, let's get back to that supposed to be six episodes because, well, only three of them actually aired and, uh, the other three have never actually been shown in the US. It's lack of success or even aired completion was likely because the cartoon had a more mature tone than most of the studio's other works and included more innuendos and quote cases of mild language. It was described as being an attempt to develop primetime animated shows to compete with other established animated series, such as The Simpsons, for example.

Mike: Yeah, that was the thing that they were really trying to do. Every network was trying to replicate success of The Simpsons at that point in time.

Jessika: Right. How do you replicate that? The Simpsons can travel in time. So how do you replicate that anyway?

Mike: I don't know, man. Uh, it's one of those things where there's, like, no original ideas in Hollywood anymore, but especially right after you have a hit and you just get a bazillion. Clones.

Jessika: Precisely. Now, I have to say, about Fish Police animated series, there were some fun vocal appearances. These included John Ritter, ed asner Buddy Hackett, joe Beth Williams, and our guy, Tim Curry, who always seems to make an appearance on our show. Always cameo on our show, as it were. Um, as always, Tim Curry hit us up.

Mike: Yeah. And I mean, this had a really stellar cast. Like, there was also Megan Malali was in it, and then, um, Phil Hartman. Just way too many talented people were involved in this than they had any right.

Jessika: Exactly. What a waste for those last three.

Mike: I know.

Jessika: Right now, we do need to be clear that the Fish Police animated series, while being inspired by the comic having kind of vague representation, has a completely different storyline. The character names are the same, and they're recognizable as their comic counterparts, but the show did not follow the plot of the comic. And while the concept might seem really neat, in his interview with Manning, monkeys had the following to say about the animated series the less said about the.

Mike: Animated series, the better. I think I finally got the last knife out of my back about three months ago.

Jessika: And that was back in 2010. That was like, what, 20 years later?

Mike: Yeah. It's funny because Steve Purcell, around the same time, I think, had a Salmon Max animated series, and he kind of has voiced similar opinions about dealing with the sausage factory that is the animation industry.

Jessika: That's just what it feels like when I see any of these from that time frame.

Mike: Yeah.

Jessika: So now on to the comic book. The plot follows an anthropomorphized fish inspector named Gil, a character which Monkeys has admitted to be written after himself, hairline and all.

Mike: Okay.

Jessika: Yikes. I know, I know. And after I know. And after we have some conversation about this character, I think I don't know. Do we have insight into Monkeys himself? You be the judge.

Mike: I don't know, man. One of the big things about Gill is that he is like a raging alcoholic, basically.

Jessika: He sure is. And he's definitely a womanizer. So Gill has his home broken into by Angel Fish, who states that she needs help getting her uncle, Dr. Calamari, out of the grasp of the organization Squid, who is using him to create a drug that sends you to another dimension where, uh, people walk on legs.

Mike: Yeah. And originally the wording for it makes it sound like it is another dimension. And then later on, it's more implied that it's like, oh, it's just the surface world. Like this is an ongoing issue, is that they kind of like, retcon things on the fly and it's not obvious. Also, do we ever find out what Squid actually stands for?

Jessika: No.

Mike: Okay.

Jessika: I read nine in and no.

Mike: Okay.

Jessika: They're sharks, too. They're shark as well.

Mike: Which, again, we don't get shark. Yeah. We don't seem to get an explainer for any of these acronyms. And I was a little grumpy. I really wanted one.

Jessika: Yeah. Gil pops out of his stupor of trying to get the other fish drunk so he can take advantage of her, um, and focuses on the other dimension part. Because here's the thing. It's already been heavily implied through the first two pages that he himself is from another world. And he's already brought up cats and some other nuggets that he dropped while intermoding. So he meets up with the Chief Inspector, his boss, who's like, no, you shouldn't do this. You've been swindled by beautiful women before, like, a lot, and no way is this any different. And also, we're super short stuff. So, no, you can't have the night off, like, super last minute. And on his way out of his boss's office, gill, of course, has to stop to hit on the receptionist, Goldie, who for some reason likes him, but she pieces the fuck out when he mentions Angel Fish, saying she's bad news. He also was like, she's hot. I'm trying to hit on this hot lady and she's like, great, what am I? Then it was kind of dick move.

Mike: Yeah, it's a lot of whiplash.

Jessika: Honestly, if you just consider that this book was written in the male gaze and that just take that and just run with it.

Mike: Yeah. M. The male gaze is applied to fish. Like, all the men have muscles. All the women are very bucksome. Even though they're fish? Um, even though they're fish.

Jessika: Yeah.

Mike: It's weird. It's very strange because they're not actually sexualized. I don't know.

Jessika: Kind of. They are, though. The women are like, kind of I.

Mike: Have a lot of thoughts.

Jessika: I don't know. After, like, issue like, six and seven got a little weird because he had, like he had like, concubines at one point. Did you see him with the concubines?

Mike: Yeah, when he was at, uh, Squid headquarters.

Jessika: Okay. You did see that. So I mean, there was stuff like that in my version. The person I saw how you were abusing those women. That was in your vision, too. Okay. Yeah. Which I was surprised about. If you're going to clean something up, like, clean that up, but whatever. So enter the character Hook, who looks honestly just like Gil. I thought so. Yeah. And I'm like, is that why you're mad at him? Because you're like, only one guy can be as handsome as me, but he's wearing, like, a Doctor Stranger's cape at that point, and he doesn't have a hook. He does have a hook. No. And the dude's in a castle, and he's just salty for no reason. He's like, that salty billionaire. And Angel Fish is there and all over him. And Hook says that he wants Gill, so there's that unclear motive. Maybe he just has a crush on him. Maybe he's a guy that only dates guys who look like him. I've met guys like that. Because my guess would be that bitch be jealous as fuck. Honestly, that's my guess. Also, Hook has this pet sidekick thing called Sinker, uh, Lol, I guess, who's like an elephant shrimp. Brine shrimp. Unclear.

Mike: Some kind of shrimp looks like an.

Jessika: Elephant head on a shrimp body. And that's why I'm calling you that. And Gil, meanwhile, does absolutely no research, takes everyone at their word, and sets up a date with Goldie. But Calamari would be there instead. Basically, that's the whole ruse. And, uh, the excuse being that the security of the police station was too high, and for some reason, they think she's on lockdown when she's not working. Okay. Or doesn't have free will. I don't know. And when Gil calls to tell Dr. Calamari of the setup, he hangs up before Gill can ask about his end of the deal. Red flag. After that, Gill and Goldie go missing. Oh, my God. The chief isn't sure if they've run off together, if there's a connection, but he suspects Squid is involved after Gill had brought it up to him.

Mike: Yeah. And there's a lot of stuff that isn't well explained, but then they fill it in in the intro page where they're just giving kind of, like the crawling text summary.

Jessika: Yeah.

Mike: In the second issue, I think they explained that Calamari's Men kidnapped Goldie and Gil had set it up. But that was not something that I got from the first issue. When I read it, I was like.

Jessika: Okay, well, Calamari's men didn't even kidnap him. Uh, it was Hooke's men had kidnapped her instead. Yeah, it was weird.

Mike: It did not make a lot of sense. I had to read the intro page each time to figure out where we were, because stuff just didn't make sense a lot of the time.

Jessika: It's true. Yeah, it's true. So, yeah, there was a kidnapping. Basically, they convinced Gil to very easily convince him to be, like, this super dictator, and he's, like, telling people to get executed, and it's not great. And he's got concubines. It's not amazing.

Mike: Yeah. Hook for some reason, is trying to recruit him to be his second in command. But then it's a ruse. But it's not well explained what the point of the ruse is because he's just this, like, disheveled, slovenly, alcoholic police detective who we don't really know much about. But it's not explained what purpose he could possibly serve for this criminal organization.

Jessika: Precisely. And then, really, it just winds up that, uh, he gets irritated at the mall, kind of, and it's like, fine, I'm letting you all go. And he wakes up in his own bed and Goldie's been let go, and fucking everyone's been let go. What, uh, was the point of all of that? What was the point?

Mike: Yeah. That, I think, is my overall issue with this comic is I spent a lot of time trying to figure out how I feel about it because the art is actually pretty good. Monkey's. Uh, art style is legit. It's fun. Um, was he the artist or was he just the writer?

Jessika: Yeah, he did the art, too, on the first, because he self published the whole thing.

Mike: Uh, the art is pretty slick overall. It's really interesting, and the characters are kind of fun. But this whole thing feels like something that was kind of chasing the trend of the anthropomorphic animals that have become big thanks to TMNT. And then it's better than a lot of the knockoffs or parodies that we saw, at least in terms of the artwork. But the story, um I don't know, the story feels like utter nonsense for the creators were just making it up as they went. And then it felt kind of like a weird mashup of the Maltese Falcon and James Bond. And then like, a little bit of GI. Joe because you have some really weird kind of outfits. And at one point, they give Gil like, a katana, an armor. Okay.

Jessika: Yeah.

Mike: Uh, also squid feels kind of like cobra. Um, but then they sit there and they like, oh, we have this mysterious drug that will either let people cross over into this other dimension where you can walk on land with two legs, or possibly just go up to the surface world and turn it into people. It's not really well explained.

Jessika: Yeah.

Mike: And then the other thing that kind of threw me for a loop is in one of the later issues, there is a bit where Gil talks about how he used to be a human and he doesn't really miss it. And I was like, where did this come from?

Jessika: Yeah, but then he does miss it because he's like, oh, I got used to fish really fast. But like, oh, I don't know. It was just this weird kind of back and forth his musing about whether or not he wanted to be a fish.

Mike: And you piece it together over time because there was like, a headline that showed that he had gone missing at one point. And then his boss was like, don't you remember that you always get swindled by a beautiful woman? He's like, no. He's like, what about this time? Like, with this instance where someone swindled you? Or this one, or this one? He's like, no, I don't. Remember any of that, but okay, I'll take your word for it.

Jessika: Yeah.

Mike: So the impression that I got from it was that he was a man who then his consciousness possessed this fish detective, which okay, yeah, maybe they did.

Jessika: A swap or something. I'm wondering if they swapped.

Mike: Yeah, I don't know. Uh, it was very weird. It's not bad, but I'm not sure that it's something I would call good either. Uh, I don't know. I'm getting the vibe that you possibly felt the same way about all this.

Jessika: Yeah, I do. I did have a hard time kind of getting through it, unfortunately. It felt really like sexist in a lot of ways. The women were just plot devices.

Mike: They really oh, 100%.

Jessika: They didn't have any agency whatsoever. Look at how they were talking about getting people. I'm going to go get that person. It's like, well, that's a person with autonomy. Like, you need to talk to them or whatever. This can't just be taking people.

Mike: Yeah. And I mean, Goldie and angel are both basically meant to be kind of like those tropes of the femme fatal and then the receptionist with the heart of Gold who's like the girl next door.

Jessika: Which, I mean, it does go with the overall noir vibe that there are, but I just think it could have been built a little differently so that they actually were characters versus just fixtures.

Mike: There was a bartender character who I think got, uh, more actual character development than either of the two female characters.

Jessika: Yeah, I agree with that.

Mike: Where it was sort of explaining about how he talked about himself in the third person and I was like, no guy.

Jessika: Yeah.

Mike: Uh.

Jessika: In fact so what are your overall thoughts and impressions on the fish in their world as it was drawn? That was something I did find interesting.

Mike: Um, it's weird, but it's also very funny because there's stuff about it where they would call it out. Like in the second issue when Gill is drinking his sorrows away and then he wonders out loud how the beer stays in the glasp since they're all underwater. It reminded me of, um, that Futurama episode where they discovered the lost underwater civilization of Atlanta when Zoidberg's new house burns down and it's like that just raises questions. And then Bender finds a cigar and he's like, oh, I'm wondering where I was left. But that just raises further questions.

Jessika: Yeah, exactly.

Mike: And the art style was really lovely, but at the same time, it didn't feel like we really got a good look at the world itself because maybe it gets fleshed out later on past where I read it. But the first few issues of the comic are much more focused on having the plot generally kind of saunter along with lots of expository dialogue between characters. And they're in indoor environments, so it looks kind of like anything else that you would find in terms of backgrounds.

Jessika: I'm going to tell you right now, it rains at one point. And I, uh, legitimately started laughing. I was getting a tattoo and I was reading Fish Police while getting tattooed. And I just started laughing out loud.

Mike: Yeah. I don't know. Uh, the other problem is that it's a black and white comic. So there's not really a lot to show us that we're in an underwater setting.

Jessika: Yeah.

Mike: There weren't a lot of bubbles or kelp floating around or anything that would kind of remind us of that. And it's not terrible, but it's one of those things where I was like, aren't we supposed to be underwater? This is weird. And then they also made a point of kind of keeping everything on the same level, uh, where they're all walking along in the same area. And it's like the same plane when underwater environments for anyone that's ever gone swimming, it's a 3D environment. You can go up and down as well as backwards, forwards, left, right. And that's something that I actually kind of liked about the Aquaman movie, is that they treated it sort of like an outer space movie in certain ways with the battle scenes and all that. Because they have all that freedom of movement.

Jessika: Yeah.

Mike: And there wasn't that same sense of freedom conveyed in this.

Jessika: Yeah. No, I agree. The only person in this that kind of was up a little higher to be at face level was Oscar the.

Mike: Octopus, who was arguably the most likable character in the entire comic book.

Jessika: I agree. I do like that he gets so salty about the fact salty. Get it? That he's got that alliterative name. He's like, no, don't even. Don't fucking even. You just tell he's had too many years of that already and he's over it.

Mike: Yeah. But I mean, the characters themselves feel like you said the women, they're tropes. They're plot devices. They're a little bit more than props, but they're not much calamari and Hook aren't really characters. They're just kind of, again, exposition, dump characters.

Jessika: Yeah.

Mike: In fact, everybody really feels like they're there to just explain things to Gill. And Gill is not a terribly likable character because he's this kind of like lecherous alcoholic who doesn't seem terribly competent at anything that he's dealing with.

Jessika: No. And he's definitely not emotionally immature.

Mike: No, not at all. One of his first things that he does when he shows up at Squid Castle and he learns that basically he can do whatever he wants as he, like, insults the guy that he's replacing.

Jessika: Yeah.

Mike: Mhm.

Jessika: And then goes and finds the liquor cabinet.

Mike: Yeah.

Jessika: And then picks up concubines.

Mike: Yeah. It's not great. And then there's that whole bit where he's talking to his predecessor. And his predecessor is like, well, I heard you abusing those women, and so I guess I can respect you. And I was like, what is this?

Jessika: That gave me the ick too.

Mike: Yeah. But it was such a nonsensical moment. And I think that was my big issue was that there were so many moments in this comic that just felt like there was no connective tissue between individual moments. It didn't really make any point. And I was like, what is the purpose of this dialogue scene? And a comment like that and I just couldn't justify it. I was like, all right, whatever. I'm going to move on.

Jessika: Yeah, it almost felt like it was trying to be too clever in some of the situations.

Mike: Yeah, that was definitely how I felt. I did like some of the character designs. In fact, I liked a lot of the character designs. I thought Calamari's design was really cool.

Jessika: How he was like, yeah, I did, too.

Mike: He was this weird mashup of man and squid and then he's going around in a smoking jacket or maybe it was a lab coat. It was kind of hard to tell because it was black and white, but it looked really cool. I actually the I liked the design a lot for Angel Fish. I thought it was really neat. But it was also weird where it's like the fish women have boobs and.

Jessika: Stylized muscles. He made a comment about the hair. He's like, what's with your hair? Is it a wig? I don't know if that was.

Mike: I think the comic actually was at its best when it was making those little throwaway comments because they were genuinely weird and funny and just kind of reminding you of how strange this whole premise was. But yes. I don't know, it's interesting. It's not something that I'm really in a rush to go read other issues of.

Jessika: Yeah, I probably won't seek any more out after this.

Mike: Yeah.

Jessika: Especially because it wasn't, like, easy since I couldn't find like a second trade paperback. I was like, well, this trade paperback is over. Good night.

Mike: Yeah, they can't all be winners. They can't all be crazy man.

Jessika: Oh, uh, my good Lord Jesus is yeah, go back and listen to that one, everyone.

Mike: If you ever want to hear us talk about a comic that we actually hated, this one is interesting and it's problematic, but there are parts of it that are kind of cool. Crazy man.

Jessika: Yeah, I definitely didn't hate it. But crazy man, that's a whole other thing. Oh, uh, my gosh. Well, what do you say we surf on out of this topic?

Mike: Uh, yeah, I'm down.

Jessika: No, get rid of that. Those were awful wave noises.

Mike: They're standing now.

Jessika: Fraser all right, so we have reached, uh, brain wrinkles, which is that one thing comics or comics adjacent that has been rolling around in our noggin recently. Why don't you start us off, Mike? I've had the mic hot for a minute now.

Mike: Sure. So my stepson and I went out to the movies for the first time in two and a half years and we saw Wakanda Forever and it was fine. A solid B plus sequel to what I consider to be an A plus movie. And it was fun answering questions for him and his friend about who various characters were and what Marvel is laying the groundwork for in their future movies. But it was also kind of exhausting, like, realizing how much homework you have to have done to understand everything that's going on in these movies now. You basically have to have watched everything that's come before it to understand why they're at the point that they are. Yes, and I could also see how it'd be really easy to feel left out if you don't know what's going on or don't have someone to explain these things to you, which it's kind of fun. It's like an ego boost because it's like, yeah, I know all the stuff. But at the same time, it's just kind of like that fatigue is starting to set in. And I think that's probably why I haven't been as enamored with most of the Phase four movies that have come out. Although I will say I really liked almost all the shows that they've done. I think because those ones are longer and they give you more time to kind of breathe and familiarize yourself with what's going on. But I did really love Shang Chi. And Spiderman. No way home. But also I realized that I don't think I like seeing movies in a big theater anymore, or at least not an opening weekend when I have to get wedged between a bunch of people who were checking their phones or talking to each other loudly in the middle of a very crucial scene.

Jessika: Right.

Mike: I don't know. I guess, uh, I'm getting picky about how I spend my time in my old age. And I'm really glad that I bought a big TV that I can watch movies with my family on the couch at home more often than not.

Jessika: Yeah, that's definitely, um, something you're able to do, which is nice.

Mike: Well, what about you? What's tickling your gray matter?

Jessika: So, I'm so sorry, but I need to talk about the November 19 the shooting at Club Q in Colorado Springs.

Mike: Yeah, that's pretty fresh. And it's on everybody's minds right now.

Jessika: Yeah, we're recording this the day before Thanksgiving. So it is the 23rd, so it's only been four days. Um, yeah, it's really fresh.

Mike: Um.

Jessika: Really? Obviously, I hate crime, and I know that some media sources are really trying to downplay that aspect, but it's a hate crime. And I really, truly believe that upticks in crimes like this go hand in hand with us censoring voices and not allowing voices to be heard and not allowing people to have an active voice in the community. And we have all of these. We are really fortunate, Mike, you and I, that we live in a progressive state. And I know that I brought this up last time, too. I'm going to harp on it a little bit more. But we really do have the privilege of living in a more progressive state. And we also have a lot of privilege in a lot of other areas as well. That being said, there are a lot of people who don't have those privileges. And the places where we are able to be safe and gather in our community are becoming less and less. And that's really disappointing. And it's really scary, not only for people who are out, but for people who don't now have the option to come out because they live in these hostile communities.

Mike: Yes. Sarah and I, we have a pride flag flying in front of our house. We have colored lights that I have set to pink as kind of decorative lights. And we had a whole conversation. We're not changing anything that we do, but it's like, what if someone targets our family just because of the way that we've decorated the house? I don't think that's going to happen. But the fact that we were even having that conversation was sad and scary. And the other thing is, like, we just had a local school board election that made the news because one of the candidates was this absolute lunatic who, amongst a number of terrible positions, including equating masks and vaccine passports to the Holocaust, voiced some really outrageous opinions about queer people. Like she equated the pride flag to the Satanic flag and then also said that trans people were mentally ill and that transitioning isn't biologically possible. And she didn't win, but she still got way more votes in our community than I would like to see. And it's really alarming that a voice like that could not only exist in a very liberal suburb in the Bay Area, but also get that many votes and receive that much support.

Jessika: Yeah. And I want everybody to remember that people in the gay community aren't out there going and shooting up straight bars. That's not something that's happening. It's happening. The reverse. Like, our community is being targeted. And so I don't know, it's just something I've been thinking a lot about, and I've been thinking about it in respect to with the increase of voices that get silenced, there is going to be an increase in lack of safety or a decrease of safety. So be safe. Take care of each other and yeah. Hug, uh, your friends.

Mike: Yeah. Be kind to one another.

Jessika: Well, I'm very sorry to end it on such a downer note, but I really needed to say something about that.

Mike: No, I think, um, one of us always has kind of a downer thing. It seems kind of go back and forth, but, uh, um, it's important and I don't know, man. I feel constantly tired and sad and afraid when I read the news and how certain people are focusing on our community.

Jessika: Yeah. And ultimately, people are trying to make us scared. That's the goal. They're trying to make us feel like we can't be in our safe spaces, and they're succeeding. In a way. Our safe spaces are closing. We're feeling less safe because look at the Pulse Nightclub. Look at Club Q. Like we're not safe in our safe places. And that's becoming really evident, and I don't know what to do about that. I don't know what the mitigation is there. I'm going to keep showing up to those spaces, but there's in the back of my mind, whenever I go to a very openly queer space, one of my concerns is always, am I going to make it out of this situation? Am I going to be in some sort of trouble just for existing in this space?

Mike: Yeah.

Jessika: Well, with that, I suppose, uh, we will leave you all for next week for another dollar bin discovery. And then in two weeks, we will be moving on to a completely different topic. Do we have a subject picked out yet?

Mike: Uh, yeah, we are going to be talking about DC's Christmas with the superhero comics. Yeah, we are moving into that holiday comic content.

Jessika: Yeah, I hate Christmas, so I forgot that we were doing that.

Mike: Okay. Uh, it won't be nearly as much as a slog as the Marvel Christmas specials or Marvel Holiday specials, thank goodness.

Jessika: Uh, well, and with that, thank you all for listening. We appreciate you and we will see you in the stacks.

Mike: Thanks for listening to Tencent Takes. Accessibility is important to us, so text transcriptions of each of our published episodes can be found on our website.

Jessika: This episode was hosted by Jessica Fraser and Mike Thompson. Written by Jessica Fraser and edited By Mike Thompson. Our intro theme was written and performed by Jared Emerson Johnson of Bay Area Sound. Our credits and transition music is Pursuit of Life by Evan McDonald's and was purchased with a standard license from Premium Beat. Our banner graphics were designed by Sarah Frank, who's at

Mike: If you'd like to get in touch with us, ask us questions, or tell us about how we got something wrong, please head over to Tencent or shoot an email to You can also find us on Twitter. Still, I don't know how long we'll be there. The official podcast account is Tencent Takes all one word. Jessica is Jessica Witha and Mike is Van Sao. V-A-N-S-A-U. We also have opened up a bunch of new social media platform accounts. I will link them all in the show notes.

Jessika: Your day is outnumbered, Twitter. If you'd like to support us, be sure to download, rate and review wherever you listen. Stay safe out there and support your local comic shop.

Mike: Bye.



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