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Ted May’s Injury #1
posted July 18, 2007
Ted May, Jeff Wilson, Jason Robards
Buenaventura Press, comic book, 32 pages, July 2007, $4.95
Reading Ted May's new comic book
reminded me of following a favorite stand-up comedian into their brand-new television sitcom. There's so much of the established performance in the new work that it's hard to determine what its long-term value will be. In Injury
#1, May provides sharply realized variations on work with which readers that have been following his career output should have great familiarity. There's the violent, abstracted superhero battle with funny insults of "Your Bleeding Face," the more standard but still funny take on a corner of real life experience in "Panama Red" and some gag strips where a fantasy figure receives absurd treatment including some awareness of the strip as a strip in the "Heracles" shorts. Only "Panama Red" feels like even a slight departure, probably because of the involvement of collaborator Jeff Wilson.
This isn't to say the features aren't solid, or funny, because they are. May's appealingly designed figures and general playful take on page design has only become sharper over the years. May's approach to humor focuses on observed stupidities and a deep appreciation of human pettiness, the way each person's grander vision of their own self fails miserably to match up against reality and the way people in general are quick to whine, kvetch and do crummy things as if an inner metronome compelled them to do so, with any positive behavior depicted climbing out of the same well of fecklessness and low standards almost as if by accident. There's a lovely twist in "Panama Red" where a high school student debases himself after some shitty behavior and instead of the expected beating those he's prostrated in front of laugh at him for being such a hilariously over-dramatic ass. While the comics here aren't as ragged or gloriously dumb or even as energetic as some of their similarly-themed predecessors, it's good to see May re-establish his view of the world in such a solid and amusing fashion. One hopes that Buenaventura Press can present May to a new audience that will appreciate being brought up to speed, and that this is finally the vehicle May settles into and pushes at the outer limits of talent, becoming the cartoonist his readers have seen in him for nearly a decade.