Writer: Johnny Ryan
Artist: Johnny Ryan
Release Date: April 5, 2015
The following page samples are intended for a mature audience
Bound to resemble a beautifully crafted, gold-accented volume of classic literature, this compilation of Johnny Ryan’s Angry Youth Comix features decorative scrollwork that reveals plenty of dicks, boobs and butts that emit fart clouds when examined more closely. That design, which is both a thumb in the eye and a loving testament to the scatology within, could only have been improved by gilding the edges of the pages. You could almost display this book on your coffee table, depending on the age and curiosity level of your children. Then again, maybe not.
Crudity is easy to do poorly, and very hard to do well. But even as listless characters like Loady McGee, Boobs Pooter and others murder, defile, sexually assault and defame their fellow man in these 14 issues, there’s a weird good-humoredness at work. These comics are disgusting and proudly so, but Ryan’s glee in the material shines through. The author appreciates a well-constructed joke and has a clear weakness for wordplay (consider a long set-up about “Retarded Hitler” that finishes with the parody ranting about how much he hates “juice”). Puns as a specific genre of humor are usually associated with middle-school science teachers than with severe misanthropy; Ryan’s enjoyment of the form suggests he’s merely exercising his id with limitless revelry.
The longer stories counterintuitively have more detailed panels where throwaway jokes abound, a la MAD Magazine, with simple grids dominating the structure. Ryan also smartly works in black and white, enabling him to get away with far more graphic material. His parodies of better-known indie cartoonists (Seth, Charles Burns, Craig Thompson) are particularly sharp and speedily conveyed through a style that quickly brings to mind the originals while “cartooning” them up mightily. (The one page “Brown Hole” parody with its unprintable lines is a favorite.)
Readers can’t be blamed for deciding Ryan’s oeuvre is not for them, but his suggestion that our moral compasses are easily diverted by self-interest and appetite is accurate. It’s also easy to find oneself guiltily giggling page after page after page when lost in Angry Youth Comix.