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Dr. Tim: Book One
Christopher Varian
etompro, 110 pages

Art: Christopher Varian
Dr. Tim: Book One
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Dr. Tim: Book One by Christopher Varian can be purchased: by credit card at
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Past Feature Reviews
A review by Chris Przybyszewski

Dr. Tim: Book One starts well enough with the following exclamation: "Dr. Tim is a brilliant Medical Doctor [sic] whose scientific breakthroughs will change the world -- if he can stay alive. With discoveries worth billions stored in his head, villains everywhere have one goal: Get Dr. Tim!" What follows is a graphic novel of black and white drawings detailing Tim's adventures.

Fine. So the point of the book is to follow Dr. Tim through his journey (the first book of his adventures, at least), away from jealous colleagues, from those nefarious beings who would pilfer the good doctor's rich secrets, and even the occasional alien who would wish Timmy harm.

Then again, that would constitute a story, something with a beginning, a middle, and an ending. There's nothing like that in Dr. Tim: Book One. There's nothing that really even resembles rising action, climax, or falling action. There are moments when Christopher Varian takes us through the academic world of Dr. Tim, and then transports us to the world of Zano (with an nice appearance by the comely Kat, who rescues Dr. Tim from his enemy, Dr. Chid). However, there's nothing cohesive here, nothing that makes us care about Tim, his journey, or where he's going next.

Which does beg an interesting question. A non-story set in the expectations of a story could be seen as a story made up by a delusional character. Is that what is going on here? Is Dr. Tim actually just some schmo' off the street who is not so interesting but who is totally out of his mind? The lack of cohesive plotline certainly points to someone who has lost his way.

Whatever the state of Dr. Tim's sanity, the result is something more appropriate for the weekday newspaper comics section. But then, Dr. Tim is not even that funny. If the character had no point in the world other than to make readers laugh, then his existence is totally justified. However, there are few moments of humor, rather than the reader staring back at Tim's blank expression, wondering if Varian is playing a joke on the rest of us, at our expense (who just bought his book).

To be fair and as mentioned, there are moments of humor. For example, when Dr. Tim tries to impress the leggy Kat, he gives her a one-liner about AD&D. Obviously, the result doesn't have her in the palm of his (assumedly) sweaty little hands. Later, Dr. Tim's alien sidekick, Ushmoo, tries to soothe a savage alien beast who is attacking Tim. All goes well until "Ushmoo tore into the 'evil' part of "The Devil Went Down to Georgia" on his violin. Get it? You see, the song is really crazy during the 'evil' part, and it will make the alien beast crazy too... I guess you had to be there.

A note about artwork: the overly digitized simplicity of Dr. Tim and the other characters does little justice to Varian's talents as an artist. Shades of gray are, at the end of the day, just shades of gray. With the millions of color available to the graphics artist, Varian should have chosen to use color. This is especially true in a science fiction medium, where the landscapes can be all the more vivid, especially in contrast to Dr. Tim's earlier escapades on planet Earth, before he escapes his confines. As it stands, the reader will want to escape the black and white monotony of this one before the last page.

Copyright © 2004 Chris Przybyszewski

Chris learned to read from books of fantasy and science fiction, in that order. And any time he can find a graphic novel that inspires, that's good too.

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