Kool Aid Gets Fired

By Tim Piotrowski
28 pages, color
Published by Glitchworks

One of the things I love about self-publishing and mini-comics is that if someone wants to say, write a story about corporate greed starring Kool Aid Man, they can just do it. Tim Piotrowski’s Kool Aid Gets Fired might not have any grand revelations about business culture or the discarding of commodities, but it doesn’t need to be. It’s really darn funny while having a serious message, and it’s a mini-comic that made me really happy when it’s all said and done.

Created by Crapft Foods, Kool Aid is a "fabricate." That’s short for a fabricated creature, those living icons that companies uses as spokespeople for products. When the courts rule that "life-time" contracts no longer need to be enforced for fabricates, Kool Aid suddenly gets fired. But what can a walking and talking pitcher of Kool Aid do, especially when his, "Oh yeah!" entrance line is trademarked? His new agent thinks he should pursue a career in art, such as acting. And that’s where the trouble really begins.

There’s no denying that many large corporations are large, heartless business that lay off people and discard assets left and right, with no regard for how it will affect the lower ranks. Piotrowski gets that, and it’s something that is certainly on the stage with Kool Aid Gets Fired. There’s more to this mini-comic than just that, though, and that’s how Piotrowski turns Kool Aid Gets Fired from a one-note joke into an actual, full comic. Some of the scenes are truly hysterical, like Kool Aid trying out for Cats, or he and the other fabricates (including Mr. Peanut, Mrs. Buttersworth, and Charlie the Tuna) putting on a production of Sweeney Todd. There’s a grim undercurrent to the entire comic, though, as Kool Aid flounders through his new life and makes one bad decision after another, ill-equipped to deal with the outside world. It’s hard to not automatically draw lines between Kool Aid Gets Fired and celebrities in the real world, and Piotrowski brings those sort of situations to mind while simultaneously keeping it from being so close to any specific person or occurrence that it doesn’t feel like a carbon copy.

Piotrowski’s art is cute and iconic in Kool Aid Gets Fired. He’s able to draw Kool Aid in all sorts of situations and outfits and somehow make it feel natural. Well, as natural as a pitcher of Kool Aid wearing a wife beater undershirt, or a wavy wig while on the stage, can really be. It works well, and he’s able to make his jokes work to their fullest in no small part because of how he draws them. (The monstrous attempt to re-create Kool Aid, in particular, had me laughing for about five minutes.) I really have to give him credit for his use of, with the world being in black and white and the fabricates being the only source of color. It’s a subtle, unstated decision that resonates the longer you read the comic, and one which ultimately sets up the grim conclusion.

Kool Aid Gets Fired is a sharp look at trademarks, commercials, and companies; hopefully this will give Piotrowski some of the attention he deserves as a cartoonist. If you aren’t going to a convention that Piotrowski is attending, do make sure to order a copy from his website. It’s a darn good comic, although I should warn you that you’ll never again hear the words, "Oh yeah!" in quite the same way.

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