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posted May 3, 2005
Fantagraphics Books, 104 pages, $11.95
I've reviewed Johnny Ryan's work frequently over the last few years. I think he's funny, particularly in how he blatantly abuses standard comics set-ups like a stand-up restricting himself to an entire set of Knock, Knock jokes. I also believe he's undervalued as a craftsman, and that his bold, fat inks have really become quite attractive and expressive in a way that you can't always tell with his character designs
Blecky Yuckerella is minor work, but work that flatters Ryan because the format fosters some of the more fertile corners of his creativity by limiting his narrative options. It's a collection of alt-paper strips that I believe also appear on-line
. Every strip is four equally sized panels, configured in the book like a four-square court. Blecky Yuckerella proves to be a gross but good-natured creature, sort of a more highly socialized Pigpen with an interest in fluids and pastes that extends beyond mud. Ryan's best jokes are the ones that end weird rather than gross, I think, with lines like "People always seem to forget how fun it is to run an old drunk dinosaur into a tree." That's a pretty great line of dialogue because at that length it really has to flow and impart something of its own weirdness -- the fact that Blecky has an estimation of where people stand on this issue -- or the punch-line would die about halfway through. I think it's pretty clear that Ryan's pretty good at the joke thing, and here's hoping he keeps indulging the more obtuse corners that leads him in rather than just the gross stuff.