Saturday, August 25, 2012

Digging into Digital: Ryan Kelly Puts Funrama #1 Online for Free

One of the things I love about Twitter is randomly finding out about a great comic that I likely would never have heard of otherwise.  I then try to make others aware of it here via Panel Patter.

This is one of those cases, and if you don't like Funrama after reading the first few pages, I would be shocked.  It's written and illustrated by Ryan Kelly, who is a creator I have heard a lot about but haven't actually read anything by him, at least that I can recall.  That's going to change as quickly as possible, after reading Funrama #1.

A project stemming from Kelly's youth (he has a sample page on the website, in the about section) that went on for a very long time but sadly never made it to the present day, as almost every copy was lost. While I was making badly illustrated fan fiction, Kelly was creating new and interesting characters.  (This is why he makes comics and I blog.  It's better that way.)  Returning to the characters in college and then again as a pitch to several publishers, which none of them took him up on, Kelly opted to go the self-publishing route for his revamped ideas.

I'm really glad this saw the light of day in all its pure insanity, rather than getting diluted.  From the opening pages, which feature a character named Bomb Cat, it's clear this is a comic that isn't about anything other than mindless, silly violence, going as over-the-top as possible.  In later pages, one of the Mutant Punks steals the Mona Lisa to use as a serving tray for his girlfriend, who is featured on the cover image above.  As a group, they attack the Mall of America, and when America doesn't sufficiently care, they go after the president, leading to the best line of the comic, which I won't spoil here.

The humor is irreverent and the destruction is off the scale.  This is like a good Lobo comic mixed just a bit with the social commentary of Warren Ellis's Transmetropolitan.  These characters don't give a #$%^#, and the result is unclassifiable mayhem.  As Kelly writes in the narrative, they aren't anarchists, they aren't pirates--they're just a bunch of really, really powerful punks.

Kelly's art style is as refined as the characters he draws are raw.  There is intricate detailing on almost every page, from character design to backgrounds.  He uses shadowing, strong panel structures, and changing angles to keep the story moving briskly.  Everyone from the villains to their victims have emotions written right on their faces, with the overall picture being drawn in a very realistic style that's a bit like Kevin Maguire, though with just a rougher touch around the edges.

From dialogue to pacing to art, this comic works in perfect harmony, barreling at the reader full-force and leaving them wanting more.  You can read issue 1 online for free and I'm betting like me you'll be back to buy issue two, either as a PDF or paper copy, directly from Kelly.  (I really wish he'd put #1 up as a PDF for sale, too.)  He says he's in this one for the long haul, mapping out a general story idea and with a willingness to keep publishing it, even if no one else wants to.  I really hope that's the case, because I'm hooked and I want more.  Here's betting any of you who love fun comics will, too.

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