Building A Better Bonehead Funnybook : “Mondo Groovy” Issue Two

As is no secret to regular readers of this blog, I’m not all about “high-brow” comics here, even if the majority of books I review fall loosely into that already-loose category. Nor am I necessarily all about comics that are executed with a high degree of so-called “professionalism.” If I were forced to pin down what I am about, in a nutshell, I’d say that my tastes run toward comics that are produced with intent, and that succeed in realizing their intentions, whatever they may be.

Which brings us to issue two of cartoonist C.J. Patterson’s self-published series Mondo Groovy, a book with obviously-discernible intent that’s executed in precisely the fashion necessary in order to realize said intention — it just so happens that what Patterson and writing partner Jeremy Rogers intend to do is to regale audiences with a steady stream of dick and fart jokes.

Okay, that’s not quite accurate — in the spirit of full disclosure, this comic is full of dick, fart, drug, booze, B-movie, and cat jokes. I don’t want to be accused of being anything less than comprehensive here. But if those dick, fart, drug, booze, B-movie, and cat jokes are by and large funny, and if the cartooning itself is fundamentally solid, then why not give these guys the “props” they’re earned for what they’ve managed to accomplish? I mean, I’ve read too many lousy “gross-out humor” comics to count at this point, so if one comes along that actively entertains me, far be it from me to “diss” it solely on the basis of what it is.

Sophisticates, then, obviously needn’t proceed any further, but I’m not sure how many of that unfortunate lot are numbered among my readership, anyway. For those of us willing to ‘fess up to the fact that we don’t mind a bit of juvenalia for its own sake on occasion, this is a fun, absolutely un-demanding, and reasonably well-drawn collection of short strips (most of which, to my understanding, were originally posted during those long lockdown months on Patterson’s Instagram) that are fairly high on the chuckle quotient and sometimes even have the ability to make you laugh out loud, even if it’s entirely in spite of yourself. My advice, then? Loosen up and go with the flow, or go someplace else.

If you do go someplace else, however, you’ll be missing out on something that’s really rather rare in the particular metaphorical sandbox Patterson and Rogers are playing around in — something so rare, in fact, that one could be forgiven for thinking that it’s completely anathema to it : artistic development. Yes, Virginia, there is such a thing as getting better at doing mindless “gag” strips, and the creators of this comic are doing just that before our eyes. This progression is down to a number of factors — Patterson’s improving skills as an artist, the duo’s increased confidence in their material, the switch from black and white to quite nicely-done full color and, above all, the wise dismissal of long-form narrative in favor or nothing but short strips — but it’s in no way subtle. I was mildly entertained by the first issue of this series, but this sophomore effort was, the occasional “clunker’ aside, a damn good time from first page to last. And given that’s precisely what the publication was striving for, I’ve gotta say that it’s earned a tip of my hat.

This book is also — and I can’t stress the importance of this enough — absolutely and utterly devoid of pretense, and that’s as crucial to its efficacy as anything else. Patterson and Rogers are seeking to do something very specific here, and to do it in strip after strip, and they pay absolutely no heed to outside concerns (including, refreshingly, critical response) along the way. They’re either blissfully unaware that people who consider themselves “too good” for some stupid fun exist, or they’re aware of them and simply don’t give a fuck what they think. Either way, they’ve made a comic that’s downright giddy about its purportedly “low-rent” sensibilities, and as a result I have to say that their honesty is what impresses this critic most.

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Mondo Groovy issue two is available for $6.00 from C.J. Patterson’s Big Cartel shop at https://mondogroovybooty.bigcartel.com/product/mondo-groovy-issue-two

Review wrist check – Raven “Trekker 39” yellow dial/black bezel model, on bracelet.

Mondo Double Feature : “Mondo Groovy Horrorshow” #1

If you read my review of C.J. Patterson and Jeremy Rogers’ Mondo Groovy issue one, you’ll recall that one of the things I appreciated most about that admittedly trashy — hell, deliberately trashy — comic was that it was totally un-pretentious and utterly lacking in both self-awareness, and awareness of the broader comics “scene” in general. And all of that goes double for its companion book, Mondo Groovy Horrorshow #1. And you kind of can’t help but tend to love this one, too.

Look, let’s be honest — normally a cartoonist has to be a fairly “known quantity” before they decide to try to monetize the contents of their old sketchbooks, but here’s Patterson, a fairly “unknown quantity” if ever there was one, doing it right the fuck now, before anybody has much of a clue who he is. Not because he seems particularly arrogant, mind you. Not because his material is something amazingly new and unique. No, he seems to be doing it because nobody told him that he couldn’t — and what could be more beautiful than that?

As far as the contents of the book itself go, they’re certainly nothing to be ashamed of — mainly composite illustrations of famous scenes from “B” movies mixed with portraits of horror luminaries such as George Romero and Joe Bob Briggs (who is now, for those not aware, pretty well crashing the entire horror community in his new role as leader of a cult of alt-right assholes), with a short “Mondo Groovy” strip in the middle co-written by partner-in-crime Rogers — but they’re also, and I say this with all due respect, nothing particularly different than what you’d find on any number of deviantart pages. Hell, for all I know, this might even be stuff that Patterson plucked from his own deviantart page.  And while the comics aesthetes may be recoiling in shock at the sheer temerity of somebody packaging and selling their sketchbook stuff before they’re supposedly “in a position to do so,” I say — good on Patterson! There’s nothing quite like giving the middle finger to the self-appointed “elites” of the art world — and what’s doubly delicious is that it’s patently obvious he has no idea that’s what he’s doing here.

The art itself is of plenty decent quality, and while it’s pretty clearly all photo-referenced, the layouts of his various montages show a fairly keen eye for composition that he can proudly call his own. It’s not revelatory and/or groundbreaking by any means, but who the fuck cares? That’s hardly the point here — Patterson just wanted to do some cool drawings of a bunch of horror flicks that he likes, and see if he can make a few bucks at it while he’s at it. I’m not gonna begrudge him that, and if you do, then you need to get your head out of your ass. Everyone has the right to try to earn a living off their art.

That being said, honing his skills wouldn’t be a bad way for Patterson to give himself a better chance of doing that. The drawing in the short strip in this book has considerably more personality and panache than the art in the full-length MG comic, so he’s moving in the right direction, and rather than laugh at the occasional instances of pure amateurism, I encourage him to keep going in the direction he’s going. He’s developing a solid penchant for comical expression and doing more thorough work on his backgrounds, and it all looks pretty damn good, if not wholly original — but who is? I wouldn’t call his cartooning great, but I would call it inherently fun, and that’s precisely what it’s trying to be.

So, yeah, I’d still consider Patterson to be a horror fan first and foremost (I don’t think he’d take that as an insult), and a cartoonist second, but if he keeps at it, that equation could be reversed. I’m looking forward to keeping an eye on his work and seeing where it goes.

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Mondo Groovy Horrorshow #1 is available for $6.00 from C.J. Patterson’s Big Cartel shop at https://mondogroovybooty.bigcartel.com/product/mondo-groovy-horrorshow-1

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 check it out by directing your kind attention to https://www.patreon.com/fourcolorapocalypse

 

 

Mondo Double Feature : “Mondo Groovy” Issue One

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.

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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.