TEX follows namesake character Tex Clapsaddle, an ambitious and imaginative eight-year-old learning to navigate the world outside his comfortable childhood. His parents, Barbara and Wayne, and siblings, Austin and Missy, are along for the ride as each character faces their own wild and momentous experiences.
“TEX is a comic strip about that time in your life when everything feels brand new,” Atwell says. “If you look closely enough—with a beginner’s mind—every moment in your life has the potential to feel brand new.” (courtesy GoComics)
Finding a new comic strip that strikes a chord with you is one of life’s great joys.
When such a discovery is made – in the past this has included for this blogger the childhood finding of Peanuts which changed everything, the manic cleverness of Calvin and Hobbes and the endearing heartfelt thoughtfulness of MUTTS – you are given the gift of eye-poppingly fun art, witty, intelligent writing and if you’re truly lucky a quirkily weird outlook on life that ends up actually making a whole lot of sense.
Because what is life if not quirkily weird? Be honest that’s precisely what it is and so, finding a comic strip, such as this new gem, TEX, makes you feel like someone gets its strangeness just as much as you do.
TEX really does get how delightfully odd life can be, with creator Jesse Atwell calling the strip, which now has a home at GoComics/Andrews McMeel after years of independently publishing on platforms like Instagram, “Tex’s little, weird adventure”.
It is, and with vibes that remind you (but not even remotely in a derivative way) of Calvin and Hobbes – no surprise there since Atwell claims Bill Watterson as one of his rock star inspirations growing up – and Wallace the Brave by Will Henry, it’s shaping up, even three comic strips in, to be one of those reads that tickles the funny bone, engages the brain and delights with artwork that zips off the page with vivacity and colour.
One of the rare silver linings of COVID – “… it wasn’t until some time during the pandemic when things started coming together and the idea of TEX came about” – TEX reflected the disruption of the moment with Atwell admitting in an interview on GoComics.com, that “The pandemic had a way of making everything feel brand new … [and so, I imagined] a family where everyone is experiencing this feeling of newness.”
With a cartooning style he describes in the same interview as “Frantic. With a twist of lemon”, Atwell has come up with one of the freshest, most fun, gloriously weird and thoughtfully insightful comic strips in a good long while, which is bound to strike a chord and become a firm favourite because who hasn’t felt life is a little bit off but wonderfully possible and wondered where that’ll lead next?
Atwell clearly has and it seems like a good idea, oatmeal and maple syrup glaze sachet in hand, to go right along with him and TEX.