Comics Time: FUC* **U, *SS**LE

FUC* **U, *SS**LE
Johnny Ryan, writer/artist
Fantagraphics, 2010
pages
$11.99
Buy it from Fantagraphics
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Take a good look at that cover, if you will, and you’ll see what it is that makes Johnny Ryan’s grossout humor comics so special. Blecky Yuckerella isn’t just emitting bog-standard gag-strip flopsweat and stinkflies as she hangs, she’s also squirting out tiny little drops of urine. That’s the kind of attention to detail and willingness to go the extra mile that took Ryan to the top!

In Ryan’s last Blecky collection (co-Bleck-tion?), the fun came in seeing the pacing economy of the four-panel gag strip used as a vehicle for a completely unconstrained sense of the absurd, a willingness to turn the corner into even weirder and more ridiculous or offensive territory with each new panel. By contrast, the fun of FUC* **U, *SS**LE (aside from the title itself, Ryan’s best since Johnny Ryan’s XXX Scumbag Party) is mostly how straightforward it is: Ryan’s got a punchline in mind, and by god he’ll set it up in those first three panels no matter how idiotic it is. Wine made from stomping pig carcasses (“I call it S’wine!”), Curly Moe and Larry as the Messiah (“It’s Stoogeus Christ!”), diarrhea caused by eating Bigfoot (“the Sasquirtz”), a porno called 69-11 (“It’s like 9-11, only more erotic!” Blecky points out as Flight 11 and the North Tower perform oral sex on one another) — I’d say “you can’t make this shit up,” but you can, or Ryan can at least, and watching him frogmarch his characters through the outlandish scenarios needed to give birth to these you-gotta-be-fucking-kidding-me ideas is Guffaw City. And as I always point out, he’s a fine, fine cartoonist; this idea has more traction in a post-Prison Pit world, I know, but you don’t get to see his buoyant brushwork in those books, while here it’s what sells the childlike glee of everything that’s going on. His thick blacks really vary up the dynamics of each page, too. Unfortunately, this Blecky’s final hurrah, as Ryan has retired the strip. You can certainly see how Prison Pit and Angry Youth Comix afford him a lot more formal leeway, but I’m going to miss the consistently high batting average on display in the Blecky books. I guess it’s like Blecky herself tells Aunt Jiggles: “You can either have a lotta annoying noise and a clean robot pussy, or peace and quiet and nasty robot pussy stench. But you can’t have it both ways!”

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