Drew Lerman’s Got A Great “Schtick” Going

There are few cartoonists working today funnier than Drew Lerman, and while it would be a reach to say that his Snake Creek strip owes more to Henny Yougman than it does to Walt Kelly, it doesn’t take Sherlock Holmes-level detective skills to see a subtle-but-rich vein of Yiddish humor running under much of it. So why not acknowledge one’s influences, eh boychik?

And that’s what Lerman’s newest self-published mini, Schtick, is all about — a short form “deep dive” into the rapid-fire exchanges and caustic banter that inform so much of traditional Jewish comedy. It’s a lean and lovingly mean number, clocking in at 12 full-color pages, and that’s just about right to provide a nicely representative sample size of “double act” gag strips largely focused on the kind of aggravating-yet-hilarious misunderstandings that arise when two people can’t seem to help but to talk over (and around) each other from start to finish. Is it any wonder, then, that they find themselves in much the same place at the end as they were at the beginning?

The focus here might be quite specific, but Lerman’s cartooning style remains much the same, and that’s a good thing : minimalist linework that privileges physicality and motion above all lends itself exceedingly well to slapstick comedy, specifically to multi-panel slapstick comedy that plays out in front of largely static background imagery, so as far as marriages of form and function go, they don’t come much more made in heaven than what we’re treated to here. The watercolor-esque hues add a new wrinkle, it’s true, but it’s mostly a welcome one — I may quibble over a few choices here and there, but they’re largely effective and aesthetically “of a piece” with the overall tone and tempo of the proceedings as a whole. Perfect they are not, but oy! Whadda youse expect from a guy who normally works in black and white, I ask youse?

What’s surprising above all here, though, isn’t the comic’s visuals so much as its admirably loving (a term I honestly feel no one should invoke lightly) approach to its mission — Lerman’s got a natural and entirely unforced affinity for his subject matter that, unlike my own half-assed attempts at appropriation, simply cannot be faked and, consequently, demands to be respected. It’s not that you won’t see the gags coming, anything but — it’s that you know from the outset precisely what he’s got up his sleeve with these strips, and yet can’t help but laugh along with them anyway simply because he executes them all so damned well.

In its own way, then, this is very nearly a perfect little comic — Lerman gives himself a narrow remit, zeroes in on it like a laser, and hits the mark over and over again, with unwaveringly pleasing results. That takes skill, of course, but skill is only half of what’s necessary to make this work. The other ingredient, just as important, is dedication, and it’s that dedication — to concept, to craft, and (at the risk of sounding dismissive when I mean anything but) to formula — that holds the key to this project’s success. If you’re gonna do something, as the saying goes, do it right — and Lerman does what he’s doing here more or less exactly right.

Look, I’m not going to fool you — it’ll only take you all of about ten minutes to read this comic. But they’ll be ten of the most enjoyable minutes in your calendar year. Pass on it and you mebbe oughta get your head examined.

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Schtick is available for $5.00 from Neil Brideau’s Radiator Comics distro at https://www.radiatorcomics.com/shop/minicomics/schtick/

Also, this review — and all others around these parts — is “brought to you” by my Patreon site, where I serve up exclusive thrice-weekly rants and ramblings on the worlds of comics, films, television, literature, and politics for as little as a dollar a month. Subscribing is the best way to support my continuing work, so I’d be very appreciative if you’d take a moment to give it a look by directing your kind attention to https://www.patreon.com/fourcolorapocalypse

3 thoughts on “Drew Lerman’s Got A Great “Schtick” Going

  1. Pingback: Feasts For The Dogs And Birds – This Week’s Links - Avada Classic Shop

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