Saturday, October 13, 2018

Book-A-Day 2018 #286: Boy's Club by Matt Furie

Matt Furie's comics get me asking stupid questions for no good reason. And not even the questions you might expect -- either the "why am I reading these oddball stoner comics" type or the "what's the deal with Landwolf" type.

No. Instead, possibly urged by the loose, free-and-easy stoner vibe, my mind wonders why "Matt Furie" sounds weirdly familiar, in a classic-literature kind of way. (Reason: I'm thinking of Michael Furie, the dead guy in James Joyce's The Dead.)

Or I start to wonder why the book is called Boy's Club. There are four characters in it, right? And all of them are boys (or maybe men -- well, not really men). So, which one is the "boy" that this club belongs to? Or is this a stupid question to begin with?

As a wise man once said, there are no stupid questions, only stupid people. Boy's Club is full of stupid people.

There are four young men, who seem to live together: Andy (the dog), Brett (blue), Landwolf (obvious), and Pepe (the frog). The comics about them focus on the small stupid things they do: hanging out, eating, drinking, various bodily functions, playing pranks on each other, saying catchphrases, staring dully out into space, zoning out after experiencing various mind-altering substances.

The comics are mostly one-pagers: six panels, all jammed together without gutters and drawn in a precise style with all the lines having the same weight. A whole lot are just "this guy transforming into a monster" bits or "this guy's catchphrases" or "look at him dancing" or even some random surreal thing (presumably drug-induced).

It's very sophomoric, obviously -- one of the few long stories is about a "long ass shit" one of the boys had, and which they then saved in the freezer for reasons that made sense to them at the time. The other long story introduces Bird-Dog, the pizza delivery guy, who has long, intricate theories and supposed expert knowledge about marijuana and the history thereof. Even when Boy's Life is being more complicated and story-driven, it's about drugs and shit.

It's fun and goofy on that level though: if you've been or known young aimless guys, the type will be very familiar, and Furie is good at making them interestingly stupid and shallow. Of course, you have to be interested in people like that to begin with -- if you're not, this is very much not for you.

(Furie's work, which appeared mostly online at first, was also the basis for a whole lot of memes over roughly a decade starting in the mid-aughts, so there's a cultural-history aspect to this, too, if you want to go all highbrow. That's all well before his character Pepe was appropriated by the nastier strains of online right-wingery as a symbol of hate -- but the latter has mostly wiped out memories of the former.)

This is a very druggy set of comics with very little in them of socially redeeming value. But, y'know, so what?

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