Comic books and cartoons have been a mainstay of humorous entertainment for a long time. First political cartoons, then the Sunday Funnies, and the weekly comics have provided laughs for generations and have transformed a lot over the years. Plus, the people who work in comics are pretty funny too, just check out this amazingly coordinated April Fool’s jokes and these awesome Image April Fool’s crossover covers. I’ve been reading a lot of funny comics lately, so in honor of April Fool’s Day I wanted to share with you a few that I’ve really liked.
Chew is a long-running, recently ended series from John Layman and Rob Guillory published by Image comics, about Tony Chu, a cibopath who can get psychic impressions from the food he eats. His gift makes him an excellent agent for the FDA, the most powerful form of law enforcement in this alternative world where poultry is banned after an “avian flu” gets out of control. The premise itself is a bit outlandish and only gets more bizarre as the 12 volumes goes on, but where Chew really hits it’s comedic stride is in the attention to detail in Guillory’s art. One thing non-comics readers often state a why they don’t like comics is because they like to envision the world themselves instead of having an artist illustrate the world for them. However, Chew strikes a beautiful balance between witty dialog and richly designed, humorous world building. Details like posters in a doctor’s office that read, “Chill Pill—now a REAL thing!” or a folder on Chu’s desk reading, “Various Weird Food Crimes File 207” make reading this book only once not an option. Plus, the titles of the trades are too delicious to pass up!
Skottie Young is one of my favorite author/artists right now. If you aren’t following him on Instagram, his sketch of the day is often the highlight of my Instagram browsing. His Image book, I Hate Fairyland, with Jean-Francois Beaulieu, is an interplay of parody and wordplay that makes it both humorous and intelligent. Gertrude enters Fairyland a wondrous child, but after decades stuck in the neon sky, talking landscape, cheerful anthropomorphic animal inhabited land, she has some slight deficiencies which make her an extremely humorous character. Imagine being a thirty year old in the body of an eight year old. What sort of things can you tell yourself to distract from your body dysphoria? Gert has never been exposed to many of the things which form an adult personality, most notably, swear words. The language used by Gert is the hallmark of the humor of this book. Variant covers title “F*ck Fairyland” juxtaposed with the innocent swear words like “Mother Fluffer,” “Muffin Hugger,” and “Fluff” make for a jarring experience. While the language used in I Hate Fairyland leads to many laughs, the parody of traditional fairy tale tropes, like unaware citizens, cruel dictators, and small, disaffected sidekicks make this book feel like the politically correct fairy tales on an acid trip that will make you rethink all the dangers children in fairy tales face.
Comics can be inherently funny. Men in spandex, crazy hairdos, and that terrible phase in the 90s when men had too many muscles for the human body and pouches galore, give creators a lot of material to poke fun at. Deadpool uses these stereotypes and flips them upside down, creating a polar opposite version of the standard superhero. He’s a merc with a mouth, and there ain’t no pretty face under that mask, but he uses the superhero genre as a platform for reflection, especially when breaking the fourth wall and providing direct commentary to the reader. Another comic which utilizes this writing technique is Howard the Duck. Howard is an anthropomorphic, hard-boiled detective duck who is hard to take seriously. Like Deadpool, he breaks the fourth wall to provide commentary to the reader, akin to old detective films where the leading man supplies narrative voice overs. But he is still a duck, the only one of his kind, and he chooses to come to Earth to be a detective. Doesn’t make much sense, but in Chip Zdarsky, Joe Quinones, Veronica Fish, and Joe Rivera’s run, things get more meta than usual with Howard latest case.
What are your favorite comedic comics? Here are some other favorites of mine right now.