Johnny Viable and His Terse Friends #1
Floating World Comics
Writer/Artist: Steve Aylett
This book is truly insane... in the best of ways. With a whole mess of stories featuring the bizarre and the absurd, some of which originally published in Alan Moore's Dodgem Logic magazine, Johnny Viable makes the reader laugh as well as think at least 5 times per page! Now being published by the store/indie publisher Floating World Comics, Steve Aylett gets to produce even more strange adventures of Johnny Viable and the world he inhabits. Some of Aylett's other titles include Lint, Slaughtermatic, and The Caterer. There are a bunch more, all of which can be checked out HERE!
As I mentioned, Johnny Viable is a collection of stories. I will briefly go into the synopsis of the first, which sets the tone for the whole book very well. Johnny is curious about his strangely enigmatic and insane grandfather who clearly hates the whole family so he asks his father, Peter. Well Peter accidentally leads Johnny to believe that granddad was an octopus which causes a mess of problems. The easiest way for Peter to get his son to understand is to take him to the man himself. What follows is a ridiculous origin story from this old Asian gentleman about how he went to war but was disrespected so he swam far away only to find himself ridiculed elsewhere due to lack of pants. The ridicule taught him many valuable lessons though, such as "puppets are expensive" and "schools use books as trampolines", that sort of thing. As Peter hoped it would, this tale inspires his children to choose their own path. From there we go into stories of other characters including illegal lard traders, frog people, a face hating young man, and many more. Oh man not to mention the personality put into the letter page... I hope you have good insurance because you will need stitches.
Intrigued yet? You should be! Aylett uses a large amount of heady dialogue to jam as much obscurity into text boxes as possible. This provides for more jokes, some of which you will get immediately, and some that may take a second, but rest assured they ALL will have you rolling on the floor soon enough. His characters aren't written to make sense, but rather to say dialogue that is funny simply for the fact that it isn't a chain of words we would ever think to hear. We are also thrown into situations starring outlandish, eccentric personalities (if you couldn't tell from that last sentence of the previous paragraph). This is a smart and hilarious read and if you are willing to think outside the box a little bit I think you will find that there is much more to these goofy vignettes then meets the eye.
The art style in this is SO MUCH FUN! It captures the essence of Golden Age comics while still bringing something new to the table! With that we all see some great vintage outfits as well as the campy smiles and facial expressions we have come to expect out of such stories. It is fun to see this art in a relatively modern setting (modern in terms of humor). With the quipy dialogue of the story we see this art style in a whole new light, providing an exuberant amount of life and charm.
This comic is a lot to take in at 64 pages, but I think you will find each tale is even more hilarious than the last. I would love to see more collections of Johnny Viable from Steve Aylett, he is a filling a distinctly original niche that was previously nonexistant. Johnny Viable and His Terse Friends had a relatively small print run but is still available online. Pick it up and step outside the box!