Tuesday, December 19, 2023

45 Days Of CCS, #19: Betsey Swardlick

Betsey Swardlick's punk and slightly ramshackle humor comics have always been a highlight of this feature, because she never fails to make me laugh. Whether it's vegan werewolves in Failwolves or queer monsters with Glamera, Swardlick not only is good with a gag, she knows how to spin it into a narrative. In her anthology series Spaghetti Punch, issue #3 features a number of shorter works, many of them from the pandemic. The stories are either anthropomorphic creatures chatting about various topics or Swardlick's anecdotes from being a babysitter. The former really show off her drawing chops, as these are well-conceived and just plain strange character designs, and the conversations themselves are hilariously weird. A surfing duck trying to convince a skating bird to try surfing is especially funny, with the question "What if you opened yourself up to new experiences" being answered by "What if I didn't?" 

The babysitting strips are great because Swardlick essentially opens herself to kid logic with regard to playtime. When a kid wants to be a dumpling, Swardlick wraps the kid up in a carpet, and then does it again after initial resistance and a request for it to be "dark." Swardlick instantly understands that kid logic and reactions can turn on a dime, but her flexibility in dealing with it is what makes these stories funny. Swardlick's story about a house that Ween lives in, hanging with her roommate, and other total nonsense is delightful because of her incredible use of gesture and expressive line.

Issue #4 is a standalone story featuring characters introduced in a prose story in the third issue: Moussa and Omar. These friends/lovers are metal-loving musicians and producers who covet working with a local hoss wrestler named Povo whose gimmick incorporates singing in a tender falsetto right before he powerbombs them into oblivion. Swardlick excels at precisely this kind of slice-of-life story mixed in with absurd action. The climax, when Omar steps into the ring in order to get Povo to work with them, kept escalating into further silliness before its happy resolution. The asides in this comic, like the spacy food delivery guy Jay Jay or monster truck driver CV were almost as good as the main story itself. I could easily see a series' wort of shenanigans featuring this cast. 

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