Funnybook Babylon

March 30, 2007

Funnybooks someone with a sense of humor would love!

Filed under: Articles — Gabe Mariani @ 12:00 pm

In celebration of April Fool’s day, this week we’re going to be taking a look at Funnybooks someone with a sense of humor would love. I’ve picked a few series and authors who I’ve picked out some series, an OGN, a shorter work, and what feels like a humor anthology. I’ve included works with different types of humor, so there’s bound to be something here you’ll like – but I’m pretty sure you’d enjoy all of it.

I’m also gonna loosen up the structure and writing style to make these a bit more fun to read from here on out, so I’d love for you to join me.

Why I Hate SaturnWhy I Hate Saturn 2
Why I Hate Saturn – Kyle Baker

Kyle Baker is one of my favorite writers in funnybooks. Why I Hate Saturn is one of his earliest works, and it shows in the art. I saw him at the New York Comic Con this past February at a panel on humor comics, and he said at the beginning of his career, he’d draw lots of talking heads because he’d mastered facial expressions but wasn’t very confident drawing much else.

And that’s what this series is: a bunch of talking heads. There’s a little action here and there, but its panel after panel of well-crafted facial acting. And really, when you see the breadth of emotion he can convey with these drawings, you won’t be disappointed you rarely see the characters below the neck.

It’s a good thing that there’s not much action, cause Baker can write some damn funny conversations. His characters have the kinds of conversations we all with we had – filled with witty, accurate insights into the human condition in general and our friends’ situations in particular. There’s not a page that will go by where the smart dialogue won’t leave a smile on your face.

Don’t mistake this as Baker using them as a sounding board for jokes – the characters are so well developed that by the end you can’t imagine them saying anything else. I’d compare it to a Kevin Smith movie, but really, that dude has nothing on Baker. We’ll come back to him later because really, you can’t mention humorous funnybooks and just have one Kyle Baker piece on the list.

FKATJL FKATJL 2

Formerly Known as the Justice League/I Can’t Believe it’s Not the Justice League – Keith Giffen, JM DeMatteis, and Kevin Maguire

Keith Giffen and JM DeMatteis are both pretty fantastic authors in their own right, but they make fireworks when you team them up. Set in the DC Universe with the members of the post-Crisis JLA reboot, this series uses characters that most fans of the DCU will be familiar with – and if not, I’m still sure that it’ll even make you chuckle a fair amount.

This is another work with a lot of funny dialogue, but it’s more based around character interactions than conversations about anything. The writing conveys a sense of history and back-story efficiently, bringing readers who are not familiar with the Justice League International run up to speed without seeming like an infodump. The crew gets into a bunch of sticky situations which are absurdly funny in their own right. Maguire is another King of the Funny Face, but he also draws funny action sequences just as well.

Don’t let all this bwa-ha-ha stuff fool you; there are some very poignant moments in this series. They’re emotionally heavy and I almost didn’t include these two trades on the list, worrying that they might cause some of you to break down and cry. I think that the dramatic moments serve to heighten the comedy and give you a better appreciation of these characters and their exploits. Pick this up if you like a side of tears to go with your laughs.

Nextwave
Nextwave – Warren Ellis, Stuart Immonen

Warren Ellis is always a pretty smart about inserting humor into his more serious stuff, but the first six issues of Nextwave are damn funny the whole way through. Set in the mainstream Marvel Universe, Nextwave tells the story of a rag-tag group of superheroes thrown together by a counterterrorism unit… secretly funded and operated by the terrorists they are supposed to be fighting. Since it’s Ellis, I’d usually look for some heavy-handed social commentary in there, but this series is just too absurd for that kind of talk.

The silly spandex superheroics are the selling point of this book. Watching the characters try to work together when they’re all obviously C-listers at best and unsure about being on a team at all is pretty funny. They get into trouble with some pretty absurd villains, and the jokes come fast and furious for a while. Ellis uses the series to gently poke fun at the superheroes he seems to loathe but can’t stop writing.

The art is great, and Immonen can draw some breathtaking stuff, but this series is all about the writing. Every now and then there will be a funny panel or image, but it’s not funny in itself – not a funny action or a funny expression or pose, just a funny image that was well executed from Ellis’ script (like Dirk Anger’s giant headset).

The writing does fall off pretty quickly after the first five or six issues, though. This style of humor doesn’t work for too long, and it degenerates into *funny named villain,* *the robot likes beer,* and *funny thing from the internet.* But it’s a lot of fun while it lasts. Definitely give this one a read if you like Ellis, since it is very obviously a Warren Ellis penned story, but any fan of seeing the piss taken from superheroes will be right at home here.

Tales Designed to Thrizzle
Tales Designed to Thrizzle – Michael Kupperman

This funnybook is almost an anthology of sorts. Done in B/W with two-color trimming, Thrizzle will both thrill and dazzle you (the author’s words, not mine, though I definitely agree with him). Made up of a collection of funny stories, fake advertisements, silly characters, and fake edutainment, Thrizzle is bursting at the seams with hilarious, off-beat and goofy humor.

The art in Thrizzle varies depending on what Kupperman is drawing, but he easily changes styles to suit different stories. It’s pretty amazing to see him switch up his entire technique to really sell a joke. Some of the jokes are sight gags, and there are some pretty ridiculous images to be found in this funnybook. The covers alone give you a pretty good feel for his humor and art style.

Although Kupperman can tell a visual joke, this is another funnybook that is sold mainly on its writing. Some of the text blocks actually look daunting at first, quite frankly, but once you start reading you realize why you bought this funnybook in the first place. It’s hilarious. I’ll guarantee you 3 laughs per page or your money back. (Not really, as this would bankrupt me; the worst part about this comic is that it’s 5 bucks for 32 pages, and even though it’s well worth the money, it adds a hefty chunk to my weekly pull when it comes out).

I Die at Midnight
I die at Midnight
I Die at Midnight – Kyle Baker

We’ll end the way we started, with me gushing over Kyle Baker. This time he’s brought all the goods: the fantastic writing he’s known for and the totally wicked art and coloring that he’s developed over the years.

I Die at Midnight is a fast-paced, high-energy story about a guy who is gonna die at midnight. Except it was a total accident and he doesn’t want to die anymore. It’s an easy fix, but he doesn’t want to go to the hospital to see a doctor, so it’s actually not that easy.

Hilarity ensues.

Things go wrong for the main character of this short story on a level unheard of outside of a Lemony Snicket book, except they’re outrageously funny instead of horribly depressing. In this man’s struggle to not die, he has to overcome every roadblock imaginable to get his DIY cure before he dies.

Oh, and did I mention that it’s New Year’s Eve? Cause it is.

Baker backs up his facial expressions in this with some real substance that you don’t see in many comics today at all, let alone comedy books. His writing is sharp and guffaw-inducing, so make sure you don’t read this in front of anyone you want to impress, cause you’ll come off like an idiot.

But I hope that’s now how you feel about reading this column. I’ll see you next week.

2 Comments »

  1. I really need to pick up some Fantagraphics titles :/

    Comment by Crusader — April 2, 2007 @ 10:26 am

  2. Tales is an excellent place to start!

    Comment by Gabe Mariani — April 6, 2007 @ 12:58 pm

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