Maintenance Vol. 1: It’s A Dirty Job… (Oni Press)

maintenance-header.jpgWhat’s life like for a master of the custodial arts when you’re cleaning up the messes of a mad scientist?



88 pgs. B&W; $9.95

(W: Jim Massey; A: Robbi Rodriguez)


"So what say you put down your chocolate milk and beef jerky and go wipe up that fetid pile of shit outside Lab 17?" This is how Maintenance begins—with a laugh, and by implication, a recommendation that you drop what you’re doing and get ready for, um, adventure.

The cover to Maintenance Vol.1. Click thumbnail for a larger image.Maintenance is a comedy that follows the escapades of two janitors who work in a vast laboratory broken up into rented spaces, where evil scientists craft death rays, time machines, "mansharks," and so on. Our janitor-heroes are continually mopping up slimy mistakes, running from escaped monsters, and jabbing screwdrivers into hiccoughing engines of doom.

The writing is genuinely funny. Jim Massey (Death Takes a Holiday) imagines a bad guy who wants to bomb the Golden Globe Awards. One monster is taught English from a videotape of Porky’s 2: The Next Day. A black mad scientist (that’s "mad" as in angry, as well as insane) wants to "complete" the work of George Washington Carver by seeing "his mutant peanut army rise up… to destroy the white man."

Robbi Rodriguez’s expressive, cartoonish, fun art is easy on the eyes. He draws one mad scientist with a WWI German helmet, a monocle, a handlebar mustache, and a hand stuck inside his jacket like Napoleon—it’s hilarious.

What’s more, it can’t be easy to get the wiseassed jokes to match the "reaction shots" on the faces of the various characters just so, but Massey and Rodriguez manage it—they work very well together.

If tragedy is easy and comedy is hard, maybe in comics, superheroes are easy and humor is hard. Maintenance is the rare funny book that gets where it’s going. | Byron Kerman


Check out a whopping 32-page (!) preview here, courtesy of Oni Press!

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