So, yeah, my first thought when I got Mondo Groovy issue one — along with its companion comic, Mondo Groovy Horrorshow #1 — in the mail from cartoonist C.J. Patterson was “these guys are trying too hard.” I mean, that title alone is just way too spot-on, right? You know this is probably going to be about a couple pothead dudes who are into trash cinema and don’t have much else going on. Maybe with a Fat Freddy’s Cat-type pet/sidekick thrown in for good measure.
And so it is. But here’s the thing : while it may, indeed, be every bit as obvious as it seems at first glance, and while it may be as all-over-the-map in terms of its effectiveness (or lack thereof) as any “gag humor” comic aimed squarely at the stoner crowd, it’s so damn unpretentious, and utterly lacking in fucks to give, that you can’t help but go with its flow and have a stupid good time with the thing.
And speaking of stupid, one thing I appreciate about what Patterson and his co-writer, Jeremy Rogers, have made here is that it never for one minute pretends to be anything but. The book’s two protagonists are basically more likable versions of Beavis and Butt-Head, and if my guess that they’re stand-ins for the creators themselves is correct, then you gotta kinda marvel at the fact that they’re willing to make themselves look like a couple of go-nowhere dipshits just for laughs. What would be even more remarkable, though, is if they flat-out didn’t realize these guys looked like go-nowhere dipshits because, hey, this are what the people they know are all kinda like — and hey, for all I know, that may be the case. If it is, then they would be a lot like any number of horror/cult movie fans I’ve known over the years, and yeah, if I said I missed that scene I’d be lying, but at the same time, there will always be a nostalgic glow — okay, maybe more like a nostalgic haze — associated with that whole crowd for me. Could it be that’s why I like this admittedly disposable comic?
Well, partly, sure, but I think the other thing that’s notable is that this has obviously been written and drawn with no knowledge of what pretty much anybody else in comics has been doing for about the past 20 years. and therefore is free of more or less any sort of influences whatsoever. Forget wondering whether it was Chris Ware or Dan Clowes who had the biggest impact on these guys — I doubt either Patterson or Rogers has ever heard of them except perhaps in passing, much less read any of their stuff. There’s not an ounce of sophistication to be gleaned here, whether actual or aspired to — and if that’s not a breath of fresh air right there, I don’t know what is.
As such, this means that Patterson’s cartooning leaves a bit to be desired — in the main story, “Jerms Breaks it Off,” the illustration is pretty loosey-goosey and non-descript, while the shorter backup strips are drawn a bit tighter and frankly look a bit better, probably because he’s doing smaller panels to fit more story into each page — but it’s fundamentally sound enough in terms of its exaggeration and fluidity to do what it needs to do, and with a bit of formal art school training, who knows? He might be able to refine things to the point where he had a fairly distinctive style. Buuuuut —
That would also likely kill this comic’s bizarre energy, and admittedly low-grade charm, dead in its tracks. We’re talking about a book centering on a couple kids who hang out in backyard clubhouse, smoke dope, and watch Z-grade horror movies, and what hijinks ensue form that are little more than temporary interruptions from sitting around on the couch. Pretty much nothing of consequence happens in these stories, just as pretty much nothing of consequence happens in the lives of guys like this, but imagine being so free of pretense that not only do you see nothing wrong with that equation, you actually think it’s kinda funny? The mind reels at the utter lack of self-awareness, sure, but I’m also kinda envious of it — and when you really think about it, there’s absolutely no reason why two guys who aren’t particularly “up on” comics and just want to string a bunch of intentionally-lame jokes and sight gags together shouldn’t do exactly that. Sure, there’s no way this book is going to end up being talked about as one of the year’s best, much less one of its most important, but it’s probably among the most honest — and when you spend most of your time neck-deep in a pile of comics that all have, or at least hope to have, something to say, then one that not only doesn’t, but admits it, is a very welcome change of pace indeed. Shut your brain off for this one, you certainly won’t be needing that — and I don’t mean that as any sort of “sideways” compliment, I mean it as a perfectly sincere one.
Mondo Groovy issue one is available for $5.00 from C.J. Patterson’s Big Cartel shop at https://mondogroovybooty.bigcartel.com/product/mondo-groovy-issue-one
Review wrist check – going casual (hell, flat-out relaxed) today with my Raven “Solitude” gray dial model riding a BluShark green and red “Pajama Stretch” strap.