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Hardly the Hog #5
posted April 3, 2003

Creators: Jamie Coward and Alex Coward
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I honestly have no idea what the hell is going on in this comic, and the temptation is to never find out because its doggedly obtuse nature may be the only thing I really enjoy about it. If I had to guess, the basic idea behind Hardly the Hog is to place an anthropomorphic porcine character in an oddball English setting and watch the mismatched sparks fly. For English creators and readers, such a set-up would have added resonance because it would stand on its head the hallowed English tradition of comedies where properly behaved people upbraid rubes.

Issue #5 offers up an extended parody of the last third of the movie Jaws -- the Cowards get points for being stupendously non-topical -- folded into a general caper comedy (the shark is fake) and some slight commentaries on both filmmaking (the various '70s-era super-directors make a cameo) and what goes into the making of local legends. There are a few decent stand-alone bits. I particularly enjoyed a nonsensical, mostly silent sequence involving the construction of a shark chair. But the art, while striking, is never clear or evocative, and the comedy is more amusing than deeply affecting or outright funny. In the end, Hardly the Hog seems to lumber up out of some barely remembered indy comix past, when individual voices working in slightly familiar genres were guaranteed market access no matter how obscure their point of view. Anyone who mines the humor out of here will no doubt get a chuckle or two, but I imagine the primary reaction for most readers will be to admire Hardly's dogged industry survival skills, like a prehistoric fish found in a lobster trap.