Matt Furie’s Boy’s Club is No Rare Pepe

Comics Reviews
Matt Furie’s Boy’s Club is No Rare Pepe

Writer/Artist: Matt Furie
Publisher: Fantagraphics
Release Date: May 11, 2016

STL000380.jpgOriginally created for MySpace but perfected on Tumblr (a platform that fosters community, but also encourages sharing without thinking), Matt Furie’s comic strip about four jackasses with animal heads is more than a decade old, which should make you feel old, cranky and out of touch. Furie himself lost control of the characters ages ago, as people on 4chan, reddit and other similar sites remixed and re-contextualized the strips (Pepe the Frog in particular), a phenomenon Furie compares to the ubiquitous unlicensed stickers of Bill Watterson’s Calvin peeing on or praying to this and that. It’s a relatively early example of meme culture, and, as with many memes, it’s difficult to discuss the strip as an artistic product without sounding like a grouchy old lady. So here goes.

The misplaced apostrophe in the title is only the first example of just how irritating Boy’s Club can be. The strips don’t seem to come from a misanthropic perspective—Furie just seems to be having fun with something kind of stupid that he enjoys drawing. But when read page after page, the crushing weight of that stupidity will leave you grim about the future of humanity. If you are a woman, the comic will not improve your view of men. It’s possible Furie intends the repetition of inane catchphrases as some kind of commentary on the sorts of people who still quote Austin Powers regularly and with enthusiasm, but that’s not much of an insight. The tendency of Boy’s Club to mine the same comedy ground over and over (stoned people are hungry, marijuana alters your perceptions, scatology is hilarious) suggests that any kind of larger point is a mirage.

Boy’s Club Art by Matt Furie

Furie’s line is crisp and pleasant to look at in the abstract. The 1970s-style athletic shorts worn by several characters are rendered with love and care, as are the sections of hair on Landwolf’s face. He can draw the tongue of a self-confident but slightly toasted dude like no one’s business, and the body language of these skinny folks is right on. Simon Hanselmann goes over similar material in his Megg & Mogg strips, even venturing into much greater cruelty, but his work includes actual narrative and characters who may not change, but who at least struggle with their stasis. Boy’s Club is no deeper than an obnoxious mall kiosk t-shirt or, indeed, a sticker on the back of a truck.

Boy’s Club Art by Matt Furie

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