Channel Awesome
The California Raisins 3D #2

California raisins linkara.jpg

July 19, 2010
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I heard it on the grapevine that this comic blows.

Linkara: Hello, and welcome to Atop the Fourth Wall, where bad comics burn. (rolls eyes) Oh, dear Lord, if ever there was something that made me feel old for remembering it, it would be the California Raisins.

(Footage of the California Raisins special Meet the Raisins is shown)

Linkara (v/o): It's not even that they're that old. I can just barely recall watching a California Raisins TV special thing in the early '90s. I don't remember what the hell it was, and for all I know, it could have just been a commercial that I've blown out of proportion, but it's just been so long since I even thought about the California Raisins. They almost seemed like a fever dream. Claymation and stop motion fascinated me as a little kid. I never really looked into the production aspects of it, but just watching drew my attention since it was just so... different. As such, that included the California Raisins.

(Cut to footage of a California Raisins commercial)

Linkara (v/o): For those either too young or who have never heard of them, the California Raisins were originally produced as a commercial in 1986 to promote, well, raisins. The commercial proved so popular that the characters were spun off into other media, like...

(A montage of said media is shown, starting with the Meet the Raisins special)

Linkara (v/o): ...TV specials...

(Cut to footage of a California Raisins cartoon show (yes, that was a thing))

Linkara (v/o): ...a cartoon...

(Cut to a California Raisins album)

Linkara (v/o): ...some albums...

(Cut to a print ad for a never-made California Raisins video game)

Linkara (v/o): NES game that was apparently never released...

(Cut to a shot of the cover of a comic featuring these characters – in 3D, no less!)

Linkara (v/o): ...and a brief comic series that sadly was released.

Linkara: Which brings us to the other half of our title: the (makes "finger quotes") "3D" part of it. 3D movies seem to be all the rage these days, and I couldn't care less about it.

(A shot of a pair of Real 3D movie glasses is displayed)

Linkara (v/o): It's a gimmick, and it gets kind of annoying when I'm told I should see a move in 3D.

(A montage of 3D movies and comic books is shown, including the Tim Burton version of Alice In Wonderland, the Superman comic "For Tomorrow", "All-Star Batman and Robin #3", The Last Airbender, Avatar)

Linkara (v/o): Why am I bringing this up in a comic book review? Because the idea that it looks prettier or better is exactly the same kind of argument many have used in the past to defend truly awful comics that may have had gorgeous artwork. I'm sorry, people, but we're not dealing with paintings here. We're dealing with mediums that involve story. It can be surreal, it can be nonlinear, it can be deep and confusing, but just because it looks good, doesn't mean it is good.

(Cut to shots of the Superman comic "Kingdom Come" and the Spider-Man comic "Marvels")

Linkara (v/o): And if I may recommend something, if you want to read a comic that's well-written and looks gorgeous, check out "Kingdom Come", "Marvels", or almost any comic with Alex Ross on the artwork. And you don't need to wear special glasses for it.

(Now the montage cuts to comics with 3D in it)

Linkara (v/o): 3D has been an occasional gimmick in comics, used a teensy bit more often these day to depict psychedelic or otherworldy settings, like in "Final Crisis: Superman Beyond" or "League of Extraordinary Gentleman: The Black Dossier". It's still a gimmick, but I give props for attempting to give readers a reason why they should need to wear 3D glasses when they're trying to read a book.

(Cut back to the California Raisins 3D comic)

Linkara (v/o): However, this begs the question: why is this comic in 3D? It's not like it's anything special. It's the California Raisins, for crying out loud! It looks like they were trying to print a black-and-white comic, but decided to go 3D because... uh, they'd make more money? Seriously, if you're gonna be cheap, just be cheap! I can't imagine it being less expensive to print two colors for the 3D effect instead of just black ink.

Linkara: (donning a pair of 3D glasses) So put on your 3D glasses and let's dig into (holds up today's comic) "The California Raisins 3D #2".

(AT4W title sequence plays; title card has "I Heard It Through the Grapevine" as performed by the California Raisins (from their commercials) playing in the background; cut to a closeup of the comic's cover)

Linkara (v/o): Okay, maybe I was too quick to say they weren't being cheap enough, given this cover. There is barely any detailing on this cover, just a flat blob of color for the sky, for the grass, and the spotlights on the Raisins. As such, let's talk about nitpicky things that I find amusing. So, the California Raisins are sentient food with arms and legs. Why do they not wear clothes?

(Editor's note: "Got to love the 'L' for 'Loser' hands.")

Linkara (v/o): Or if there's some sort of cultural thing where they don't need to wear clothes, what the hell is with the kinda, sorta tuxedo fronts on them with bowties? Why are their eyelids blue?

Linkara: And anyone ever notice that they don't actually look like raisins? (looks at comic) They kind of look like slightly shriveled grapes. Okay, yeah, I know that raisins are dried grapes, but you get my point.

(The comic proper begins, revealing the alleged 3D anaglyph effect right away)

Linkara (v/o): I do apologize about the visuals here you're gonna be seeing here, since they're all in 3D, and as such, it's difficult to discern what you're looking at. If the images become too difficult to discern or if it's just painful to look at, I'll put a filter over it to try to make it look better. However, right off the bat, there's something wrong with what we're seeing here. Those of you with 3D glasses can probably identify it right away. Since most of you probably don't, here's the problem...

Linkara: (wearing 3D glasses) THE 3D DOESN'T WORK!! And I don't mean in a "well, this isn't really three-dimensional kind of way". I mean, I've got the glasses, I'm looking at the panels... AND NOTHING IS HAPPENING!

Linkara (v/o): It's not the glasses, either. I tested them out on other kinds of anaglyph 3D; i.e., 3D using the red and blue thing, and it worked just fine on those. There was clearly a distortion or the illusion of depth present in those images, but in this comic, it's not working! There's even a credit at the bottom for the 3D effects by Paul Tallerday...

(Cut to a shot of the cover for "Star Wars 3D #1")

Linkara (v/o): ...who is apparently the colorist responsible for other 3D comics at this company. I don't know, maybe it's just this one comic or this one single issue that I have...

(Back to the California Raisins comic again)

Linkara (v/o): ...but there's something wrong when you're touting 3D, you go to the trouble of printing it in the format, but it just doesn't work!

Linkara: I'm not an expert, so I can't tell why it isn't working, but based on what I've read and the images I saw it working on, I think the problem is that the two colored images are offset too much. It's not creating the illusion of depth, it's creating something that hurts to look at for too long!

Linkara (v/o): Naturally, we begin with a prologue.

Narrator: Welcome to Raisinville, California. Peaceful. Quiet. Yet, on the hill overlooking the town...

Linkara: (as narrator, holding up hand) A shot rang out!

Narrator: Big Burger glowers down on this serenity.

Linkara (v/o): I admit, I never watched the cartoon, and it's been a while since I watched a lot of the commercials and stuff, so I do apologize if I don't recognize any of these characters, but "Big Burger"? A little on the nose, isn't it? Were his parents like Mama and Papa Burger or something? Is it a title thing? Will he someday be "Old Moldy Burger"? For that matter, how does procreation occur when you're a food that's made up of different components like bread, meat, lettuce, etc.?

Big Burger: Someday, Raisinville will be my town! But that infernal singing group keeps ruining my plans!

Linkara: Oh, Nightcat must have formed her own team since last we saw her.

Linkara (v/o): By the way, dude, why the heck do you want that boring town? It's just a bunch of wobbly, slanted cubes. It's almost as if it was poorly drawn or something. His henchmen enter, made up of fries, a candy bar with only the letters N-D-Y on it, and... uh, a potato*? I dunno. They tell him...

  • NOTE: Actually, that's a cookie, not a potato.

Fries: Hey, boss! Da display's ready!

Linkara (v/o): What is this display? It's a huge, blank wall with pictures of the individual members of the California Raisins on it.

Big Burger: Grrrrrr!! Even their pictures annoy me!

Linkara: Then... why did you commission the huge poster of them?

Big Burger: I've had plans for Raisinville since I was a little pattie [sic], and I won't wait any longer!

Linkara: Okay, we're getting some biological details on this guy. When he was young, he was just a burger patty. (becomes confused) But then, did the bun just grow from him like hair? If that's the case, why are his eyes located on the bun?

Linkara (v/o): Oh, and apparently, his henchmen also include croutons that wear sunglasses. I don't get it. Said croutons proceed to drop the poster, which makes a CLUNK sound effect, but the editor's box says it prefers "CRAAASH!!"

Linkara: (sarcastically) Thank you, it was very important to know the editor's preference when it comes to sound effects. It added to the experience immensely.

Big Burger: YOU IMBECILES! It's so hard to get good help these days.

Linkara: (as Big Burger) How dare they drop that poster that probably took all of five minutes to make that I had built solely for the purpose of yelling at!

Big Burger: Come with me, you bunglers! You know what to do... Don't fail me!!

Linkara: Why did you tell them to come with you if you were just gonna send them away?

Linkara (v/o): With the prologue over with, we have a splash page of a completely legitimate-looking note to the California Raisins.

Note: Congratulations! An anonymous gift of one huge mansion has been given to you in honor of your new post as Raisinville's official town band!

Linkara: (reading note) "P.S., I am a Nigerian prince and I wish to send you my fortune."

Linkara (v/o): So, is "official town band" like an elected office or something that's appointed? The Raisins are happy about this since apparently, in the last issue, Big Burger wrecked their old place. I wonder why they didn't press charges?

Raisins: Let's hear it for fame and fortune! YAAAHOOOOOO!

Linkara: (raising his fist in the air) Hooray for fame and fortune! People just give you expensive stuff!

Linkara (v/o): They head out to their new house and... Oh, dear Lord! It's a splash page that you need to turn on its side, but not really a splash page, since there's another panel at the top here... that's right-side-up! Look, I may not like having to turn a comic on its side, but at least pick one orientation for the page and stick with it! The layout of the house is nothing special, except for one room that doesn't show anything in it: the "Vrrr-room".

(Editor's note: "Shouldn't this be the garage?")

Linkara (v/o): What the hell is a "vrrr", and why is there a room for it? Oh, wait, are they making a pun on the sound effect "vroom"? Nice. The Raisins look around the house, finding new instruments to waste a couple of panels.

Narrator: The air was filled with music from the sound system.

Raisin 1: Not bad!

Raisin 2: Not bad?! It's great!!

Linkara: Yeah, that music sure is great, but here's some better music! (nothing happens) You can't hear it because it's in 3D. (beat) Wait...

Linkara (v/o): They go exploring some more... Apparently, there's no realtor to show them around or anything. fill up some more pages. Did I mention this thing is 28 pages long? One of the Raisins enters a library where we find some books on the counter: "The Grapes of Wrath", "Days of Wine and Roses", "A Raisin In the Sun". Huh, cute. Then, on the bookshelf, they have... uh, "A Midsummer Night's Raisin", "The Maltese Raisin", "Grapefinger", "The Raisin Who Loved Me"... You know, you can't just insert raisin-related words into titles and have it make sense! It's especially bizarre since we've established that other foods exist as living beings, so why are they all grape-related?! He hears some voices from behind the bookcase and realizes that it opens. However, as he slides it out of the way, it shuts on him and pushes him into a secret area! "SLAM!"

(Cut to a clip of the sliding bookshelf scene from Young Frankenstein)

Dr. Frankenstein (Gene Wilder): (to his female assistant from behind the shelf) Put... the candle... back!

(Back to the comic again)

Linkara (v/o): The other four soon realize that he's gone, but figure he's just playing his new saxophone. Another decides to go check out his new drum set. However, as he starts playing, a trapdoor opens and he falls into it... along with the drums, despite the trapdoor clearly not being the right size. Lazy art, much? The next Raisin checks out his new piano, which happens to have a big button that he decides to press, shooting out smoke in his face.

Linkara: Steam-powered pianos never really took off.

Linkara (v/o): No, of course, it's knockout gas, and he falls over, someone dragging him away. So the villains knew that he would just press that one button? The remaining two realize that if the rest of the band is practicing, how come they don't hear their instruments? One of the knocked-out Raisins... What, do you really expect me to know which one? None of these guys are named.* ...wakes up and sees the two henchmen arguing. Big Burger contacts them and tells them to hurry it up, and in turn, the croutons are ordered to get the last ones. As the Raisins walk through the hallway... Holy crap, nooses?! Ignoring for a second that these things don't have necks, isn't that a bit extre– SWEET MERCIFUL CRAP, THEY THREW A KNIFE!!! I thought they were just knocking them out! Why in the hell are they suddenly trying to kill them?!?

  • NOTE: At least one Raisin is referred to as "Hayseed".

Linkara: This is a weird adaptation of "Ten Little Indians".

Linkara (v/o): The croutons just lay on the death traps, from more trap doors to drugging them with... actually what appears to be an explosive pellet, given the hissing of the drink in this panel. More knives?! Look, if you're going through this much trouble to the point of trying to kill them, just come at them with a gun! You're not exactly dealing with Mensa members here, especially since they're completely oblivious to the sounds of knives colliding with things and glass shattering. The last two get taken – rather unceremoniously, I might add – and the Raisin who was pretending to be asleep realizes that he's been left alone for some reason. He goes off exploring and returns to the bookcase, opening it up so that he doesn't get smacked like he did before. He finds the henchmen with the four captured Raisins. For no particular reason, Big Burger orders them to stay put despite them not having the fifth Raisin with them, giving our heroic raisin...

Linkara: (feeling very uncomfortable) I just said "heroic raisin". My dignity will never be the same.

Linkara (v/o): ...the chance to assemble a plan. Utilizing the piano's digital synthesizer and other items, he's able to concoct an elaborate trap in a cartoonishly short amount of time. Using the synthesizer, he makes it sound like Big Burger tells them to go to a different room and he frees the other Raisins, leaving the villains to be trapped in a huge foam pad covered in glue, because as we all know, glue hardens instantly when it touches something. The Raisins roll up the foam pad and toss it into the water next to the house. The Raisins celebrate the fact that they still have got the house – without bothering to call the police on the evildoers or calling a bomb squad to make sure they didn't leave any extra surprises – and proceed to sing. And so, our comic ends with Big Burger ranting like Dr. Claw that he'll get them next time.

(The final page shows ads for other 3D comics, which Linkara names)

Linkara (v/o): Oh, and looky! Advertisements for more 3D comics, like "Underdog 3D", "Gumby 3D" and "G.I. Joe 3D".

Linkara: Go, 3D Joe! (raises his fist as the "G.I. Joe" jingle plays, then holds up comic) This comic sucks. The story is one-dimensional, there's little to no characterization, the artwork is subpar, (holds up 3D glasses) AND THE 3D DOESN'T WORK! Take it away, Claymation. (puts down comic, gets up and leaves)

(End credits roll to a clip from a Claymation special featuring the California Raisins as they perform "Signed, Sealed, Delivered, I'm Yours" at a concert)

California Raisins:

Like a fool I went and stayed too long
Now I'm wondering if your love's still strong
Ooh, baby, here I am,
Signed, sealed, delivered, I'm yours
Then that time I went and said goodbye
Now I'm back and not ashamed to cry
Ooh, baby, here I am,
Signed, sealed, delivered, I'm yours

I half-expected Big Burger to take that poster, hold it up, and yell, "I hate you, Chuck Norris! HATE HATE HAAATE YOU!"

The advertisement on the back is for the comic adaptation of a Schwarzenegger flick called "Red Heat" ...IN 3-D!

California Raisins:

Here I am, baby
Oh, you've got the future in your hand
Signed, sealed, delivered, I'm yours
Here I am, baby
Oh, you've got the future in your hand
Signed, sealed, delivered, I'm yours
I've done a lot of foolish things
That I really didn't mean
Hey, hey, yeah, yeah...

(Stinger: Linkara is examining the California Raisins comic again)

Linkara: Gee, I'd hate to imagine what a female Raisin looks like.

(Cut to a closeup of a California Raisins comic featuring a female version of the band called... the Lady Raisins)

Linkara (v/o): OH, DEAR GOD!!