One of the reasons I loved Scooby Doo as a kid was that the monsters and ghosts were never real. It was always a con job pulled by some nefarious, but very normal, person equipped with a few feet of cable, a gorilla costume and an amazing film projector. The lack of real supernatural ghouls never made the mystery any less of an adventure or any less fun. It was the search for the clues, the unraveling of the lie that made it entertaining.(Well, that and a stoner with the munchies and his hallucinations of a talking dog.) Zack Kruse’s new webcomic Mystery Solved! captures that same sense of adventure, but with a wit sharpened to a fine point for adult audiences.
These adventures are led by the eccentric Colonel Winchester. Think Commander McBragg from Rocky and Bullwinkle, only with a larger appetite and a crazier mustache. He smokes from an oversize Calabash pipe, in the field he dons a British pith helmet. His study is strewn with the spoils of past triumphs: a monkey’s paw here, a crystal skull there. With the aid of a haughty manservant and a sharply dressed right hand man, The Colonel will traverse the globe in search of the miraculous, the bizarre, and the impossible. He will uncover the hidden hoax, and always have time to share in a spot of tea.
The stories are lighthearted and good natured. Zack is always ready to poke fun at his skeptical lead character as he bumbles his way through the unraveling mystery. The first story, titled Fairy Fever, is now posted in it’s entirety. It concerns a strange case of two little girls and a town driven mad by their discovery of what everyone believes to be real, live fairies. Page 5 of the second story, The Great Escabies, posts today, and deals with the most frightening terror to goat farmers everywhere: the chupacabra!
The stories are short and fast paced, each around 5 or 6 pages in length, written by Zack and each illustrated by a different artist. Assembled here is a stable of very talented artists, all with a unique style and sensibility. I am proud to be included among them. Original character designs are by the first of these artists, “Big Jim” Miller, who has honed his animated style working as storyboard artist on cartoons like Ed, Edd, and Eddy. Jim’s style, while thoroughly modern, also carries on the traditions of Chuck Jones. It’s energetic and jovial, with strong currents of insanity laced throughout. The second story features the delightfully distinctive art stylings of Dave Dwonch. Dave has his own regular webcomic called Space Time Condominium.
Mystery Solved! updates with a new page every Thursday. Zack has also provided an in depth essay, thoughtfully chronicling his journey onto the road of becoming a skeptic. It’s a personal piece that lends a valuable insight into the motivations of the writer, adding another layer of depth rarely seen in humorous webstrips.
Whatever beliefs you may hold toward fairy tales, urban legends, and conspiracy theories, I encourage you to embrace the Colonel’s adventures for the intrepid merriment they contain in abundance. And afterward, you may have a craving for a bit of Earl Grey.