Feeble Minded Funnies/My Best Pet
Lane Milburn/Noel Friebert, writers/artists
Closed Caption Comics, December 2009
Hey, they can’t all be winners. The overall Closed Caption Comics aesthetic, to the extent that one can be pinpointed, has long appealed to me: handmade, rough-hewn, silkscreened, markmaking shit, the ballyhooed stylistic dead-end of Fort Thunder in action, you know the drill. In particular I’ve become a big fan of Lane Milburn’s mix of muscularly drawn monsters and uncomfortable humor, gags that yuk it up until it’s too late and you realize how black things have gotten. That takes a real precise mind and hand to pull off. That’s not what you get in Feeble Minded Funnies, Milburn’s half of this flipbook minicomic, however. Instead he apes the broad humor and colloquial rhythms of the undergrounds: parodic violence, torrents of obscenities, a hapless protagonist called Pukeball making his way through a disapproving world while narration hammers his satirical plight home, all that sort of thing. It actually got to the point (right around the swipe at an outdated grim’n’gritty superhero stereotype) where I wondered if this isn’t actually a parody of underground comix. You’d have to be a lot meaner to make that sort of thing work, though. Actually, has anyone ever done a really nasty parody of the undergrounds? I could use one. Anyway. Milburn draws the bejesus out of it all–someday I want to sit and just watch how he puts the bodies of one of his goons together on the page–but the stories and jokes his awesome drawings inhabit here fall flat.
On the flipside you have Noel Freibert’s My Best Pet, which is the story of a sociopathic child who tortures his pets to death told in a sort of camp faux-EC mode. Longtime readers of this blog can no doubt imagine my reaction. I really hate being so predictable about animal-cruelty gags–apparently this even came up in the humor-comics panel at SPX when I wasn’t even there–but for real: another cat in the fucking microwave? What is it that people get out of drawing cats being blown up in microwaves? Are there people who enjoy…okay, that’s a loaded term. Are there people who get something out of comics in which cats are blown up in microwaves? These are not rhetorical questions at all, by the way. I’m a person with a very high tolerance, a need even, for nihilistic horror, but this I don’t get. Like I’m fond of saying when I come across this sort of material, I’m okay with it when I feel as though the artist is attempting to elucidate something about cruelty. But the whole point of this comic, and it’s actually quite entertaining in this regard, is that it’s just going through the motions. Friebert depicts the asshole kid’s parents’ discussions about his plight without even bothering to put them on panel–it’s just panel after panel of exposition, like they can barely be arsed to show up and play their role in the strip. That’s very funny. And yet we get the cat’s oblivious mewlings as it’s placed in the microwave and its subsequent screams of pain in painstaking detail. I mean, fuck that, right? I’m not the only one?