The Perry Bible Fellowship: The Trial of Colonel Sweeto and Other Stories (Dark Horse)

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pbf-header.jpgNicholas Gurewitch's fantastic absurdist comic strip is finally collected in printed form.

 

 

96 pgs. FC;$14.95

(W / A: Nicholas Gurewitch)

 

 

Children with round, doughboy heads and smiley faces crowd around a sign in a library that says, "Enter a new world, Read a book." They rush to the shelves and excitedly pull one out. Opening the book, they're whisked away, sliding down a magical rainbow of imagination! But sadly, the book they picked up was the Necronomicon, and they soon find themselves drowning in a sea of serpentine evil.

 

The cover to the first PBF collection. Click thumbnail for a larger image.Perry Bible Fellowship is the misleading title of Nicholas Gurewitch's semi-weekly webcomic. Since he started it in 2001, the strip has gotten better and better, earning spots in alternative newspapers across the country and achieving back-to-back Ignatz awards in '05 and '06 for Outstanding Online Comic. Now Dark Horse is publishing the first collection, The Trial of Colonel Sweeto and Other Stories. While most of its webcomic brethren aren't worth the clicks, its a testament to PBF's caliber that I can't wait to rush out and buy it (even with most of them still available for free online).

 

PBF is sugary sweet innocence mixed with dark irony, insightful cynicism, sometimes just plain absurdity, and for that off-kilter sense of humor it's sometimes compared to Gary Larson's The Far Side. Both strips also use a nameless but recognizable cast of characters, but aren't bound to them. They'll switch it up to do whatever the joke calls for. PBF takes it a step further, rendering its subjects of parody in their own style with meticulous, full color detail. In the middle of the usual twisted storybook tales, one strip will look like an ancient Chinese drawing. Another, Dick Tracy, Family Circus, Hergé, Gorey, Voltron, etc. One particular 2-panel strip starts with a vibrant, 70's R. Crumb-styled drawing of 2 rats strutting and grooving under the words "Keep on Truckin'," followed by an actual black and white photo of two similarly-posed lab rats being drip-fed LSD by a pair of curious scientists. You rarely have to pinpoint which children's book author or fantasy illustrator he's playing off of to get the joke, but it helps.

 

The Trial of Colonel Sweeto is so wondrous in its glory that I'd love to recommend it to everyone, but that probably wouldn't be for the best. It has a tendency to take serious themes and ideas that people hold sacred and run them over with brutal slapstick in a way that's bound to offend someone. Like the one where Adam and Eve are doing it in Eden. All of the trees and clouds around them have happy, little smiley faces. Eve asks "Adam, do you think God can see us here?" Adam replies, "Of course he can. God can take any form." That's when Adam walks up... | Nick Main

Click the above picture to check out 6-pages worth of Perry Bible Fellowship goodness courtesy of Dark Horse. For more, explore the strip's archive at http://www.pbfcomics.com.

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