Jul 15, 2016

The 40 Years of Comics Project - Day 507: Prison Funnies #2, 2003


This was an utterly bizarre comic. I was really glad, upon opening it up, to see that there was a recap feature on the inside cover. Then I read it. It seemed to be recapping a comic from Tolkien's worst nightmares, and certainly, aside from a single sentence at the end, was not talking about Prison Funnies #1.

Many people are familiar with Chip Zdarsky from his acclaimed title Sex Criminals which, I admit, I've only read the first issue of. It was funny and clever, and if I weren't so terminally poor most of the time, I'd probably read it on the regular. But for me, Mr. Zdarsky is the mastermind behind the most recent iteration of one of my favourite comics characters, Howard the Duck. HTD has been handled by many writers and artists over the years since his creation by the great and mighty Steve Gerber, but until the Zdarsky/Quinones version of the last two volumes of the title, none have really come close to the satire and intelligence of the original version. I could wax poetic here about HTD, but I'll save that for another time. We're here to talk about Prison Funnies.

This was a fucked up comic, and I'm utterly, utterly proud to see that it came from a Canadian creator. The rest of the world might see us as those really polite people with the noisy neighbour to the south, but underneath we have a truly dark and disturbing layer. It's always the quiet ones, right? So as Diesel Pete makes his way through the penitentiary, seeking revenge for Tony's having been shot in the eye by an undercover cop (that's them up on the cover, playing one on one basketball), and Tony himself escapes prison with the brutal and bloody help of Escapio Leavingsworth (and don't worry if you're lost - me too, and I think that's actually a part of the comic's charm), we're treated to some of the foulest language I've yet to read in a comic, some of the strangest characters (who the hell is that guy with no skin that's Pete's cellmate?), and lots and lots of gay text and subtext. It's both charming in its genuine emotion and horrifying in its brutality.

What more can I say? Onward!

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