Thursday, 23 July 2015

The Perry Bible Fellowship Almanack by Nicholas Gurewitch Review

Real life Mario and Luigi – Mario drowns in a pipe. A maths problem on a blackboard in a university, like in Good Will Hunting – the janitor writes “boobs” as the answer. A kid looks at a magic eye book and spots the illusion – everybody else sees the kid holding thin air.

Welcome to the world of The Perry Bible Fellowship (no clue why it’s called that)!

Nicholas Gurewitch’s strips are like most dailies, three to five panels long, though his tend to be more surreal and dark – but still funny!

Dice-headed soldiers fight domino-headed soldiers. The dice general says to aim at the soldier on the left, then all the domino soldiers fall. Some kids build a time machine with a cardboard box – and it works, sending them back to the Jurassic period where they’re eaten by a T-rex. A kid wishes his grandpa was still alive then checks his old rocking chair to see if the wish came true – it did but grandpa’s in his coffin six feet under in the graveyard: “Hello? Anyone there?”.

Gurewitch is a master of the format, producing some brilliant gags that tend to be more clever than laugh-out-loud. Like an astronaut gets sucked into a vortex and crashes his ship into his helmet – the visual shows him looking at his helmet where a miniature version of himself is looking at a miniature version of himself crashed on the helmet!

There’s nothing too explicit but the subject matter is generally quite adult. There are a number of sex jokes and quite a bit of violence too. The Adventures of the Man with No Penis has him look at an attractive woman walk by, pull out a gun and shoot himself in the head.

Gurewitch is also a very talented artist, producing the strips in alternately different styles. Some are in colour, some in black and white, some are painted, some in pencils. He’s also able to mimic famous artists like Quentin Blake, Shel Silverstein, and Edward Gorey. The Unforgiving Tree is a pretty fun strip and his Gorey is spot on.

Though I laughed here and there, the format can be a bit tiresome to read in a collection. The beats are usually always the same with one panel setting it up, one panel doing something, final panel punchline. No matter the content, predictability inevitably sets in.

Had this been my first time reading it, I’d probably rate it higher but this being my second read, it wasn’t as great this time round – I knew what to expect so it wasn’t as surprising. Still, it’s rare to read actually funny comics and it’s a good book to dip in and out of. It’s worth a look and it’s range of subjects means there’s bound to be something to your liking whatever your humour.

The Perry Bible Fellowship Almanack

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