Vaughan & Chiang's "Paper Girls" Builds a Familiar Yet Disconcerting World
A couple of weeks ago Chris Mautner and I listed the six comics that made us cry. You guys responded with more than 160 comments filled with memories of comics that brought you to tears as well. It was very cool and kind of overwhelming to see that many people open up like that, so from both of us, thank you.
One commenter, cinorjer, suggested we name “six comics that made us laugh out loud.” Which we thought was a great idea — thanks, cinorjer! — so wipe away your tears and get ready to exercise your funnybone.
Joining Chris and I this week is Tom Bondurant, who was quick to come back with an example when I asked for suggestions. So let’s make with the ha ha’s and get down to it … and please share your own favorites in the comments section.
1. “What am I s’posed to do with a whole dollar!?”
I laughed aloud at much of Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang’s “Architecture & Mortality” storyline from the recent Tales of the Unexpected miniseries. There were the Primate Patrol’s obvious (but well-executed) Planet of the Apes references; Traci 13’s “paper covers rock” spell; and the part where Infectious Lass says she’ll never know the touch of a man, about which I … Vampire! observes “perhaps if you changed your name….”
However, I particularly liked Dr. 13’s first real meeting with Genius Jones, the smartest little boy in the world. He’ll answer any question for a dime, but he won’t deal with Dr. 13 — because the Doc only has a dollar bill. “What am I s’posed to do with a whole dollar!?” Genius wonders.
“Tell you what — I have ten questions,” Dr. 13 responds.
“Do you have ten dimes?”
Eyes practically bulging out of his glasses, and beads of sweat leaping off his forehead, Dr. 13 spits, “I have a DOLLAR!”
It goes on like that for another few panels, until the head of the Primate Patrol bursts in: “How ’bout I geev you a nickel saun’wich?” And … scene!
2. “If you know so much about career choices, why are you a guidance counselor?”
I was first introduced to Matt Groening via School is Hell, his so-true-it-hurts breakdown of modern education, plus college. I happened to be in high school at the time, and strips like “The Nine Types of High School Teachers” provided the perfect tonic to my K-12 weary (and incredibly nerdy) soul. I don’t know if it was one of the first comics I ever laughed out loud at, but it was definitely one of the ones I laughed at the longest.
3. “One punch!”
There were a lot of classic, laugh-out-loud moments in the Justice League comic that was relaunched in the 1980s, but I’d daresay this was the classic moment from Keith Giffen, J.M DeMatteis and Kevin Maguire’s run on the title. Guy Gardner, a bit of a loud-mouth alpha male, decides he’s going to lead the Justice League. Batman says no, so Guy decides he’s going to show him how tough he is … but before he can do anything, “Bonk!”
Mention the words “One punch!” to any fan from that era, and there’s a good chance they’ll remember it with a smirk on their face.
4. “Do you swing it like a hammer or like a baseball bat?”
Richard Thompson’s Cul de Sac makes me laugh out loud almost every week with its absurd yet somehow true-to-life depictions of middle class suburbia. If I had to single out a strip in particular, though, it would be the one where the poor, beleaguered Nursery school teacher Miss bliss attempt to introduce a bit of decorum by introducing a “talking stick” that gave whoever held it the opportunity to take the floor. She then gives it to Alice, who, well, seems to misinterpret the concept.
5. “Cover your eyes, go back to Avengers Mansion, and make my dinner.”
Nextwave: Agents of H.A.T.E. by Warren Ellis and Stuart Immonen was about as perfect as you could get in terms of a humor series by Marvel Comics. Not just because of the funny theme song, or Dirk Anger’s bizarre rants, or MODOK Elvises. Mostly because, well, nothing was sacred:
6. “I have a bunch of old sneakers, but I don’t open a shoe store.”
You can’t have a list like this and not include Dorkin, easily one of the funniest people working in comics today. Milk and Cheese are great of course, but for my money, he’s at his best when ranting against the evils of the comics industry and all the stupid, stupid decisions made in its name. Dork #1‘s “Comic Industry trading cards” for instance, is a riotous savaging of the state of affairs circa 1991.