December 13, 2013

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Howzit Funnies #2

Written and Illustrated by Andrew Cohen
Self-Publsihed

Creator Andrew Cohen returns to his combination of humorous visuals and verse in another edition of short, illustrated poems that show a strong sense of comedy and drawing skills.

It's been awhile since the first issue, but it was worth the wait, because these short stories from Cohen are always a lot of fun. A combination of Dr. Seuss-like verbal wordplay, themes right out of a blues bar, and just a touch of horror, Andrew mixes everything together until we get the silly and the serious in just about equal doses.

This one leads off with a set of witches upset because someone has stolen their sandwich. Playful rhymes mix with a variety of ghoulish depictions until we find a most unlikely culprit. We then move into one of my favorites in this mini, King Wally, about a lonesome king who finds his purpose by turning into a tree. Drawn with thick ink lines and sparse backgrounds that keep the reader focused on King Wally, he slows transforms as the couplets describe what's happening. This one felt like something out of Grimm, and was a great treat.

The Death of a Damn Bad Man moves more into the adult realm, though the rhyme scheme remains similar to the two previous stories. Cohen's art on this one shows a lot of variety, from the cartoonish daughter in a polka dot dress to the looks of men on the wrong end of a gun, each of whom gets a distinctive look of panic. There's dead bodies and lost souls, all leading up to the punning end of the story.

Mightier than the Man finds Cohen in familiar territory, playing with the fourth wall as he does so successfully in Dr. W. A cartoonist with a smiley face for a head (which I think is a trick Ditko has used, too, if memory serves) narrates a story about how the creator must continue to create, with a strong sense of metaphor while the illustrations drive them home. Cohen shows a fountain pen coming out of the cartoonist' vein, shows ink dripping like blood, and in other cases, tries to kill himself but the pen won't let him die. It's a literary grotesque, and another highlight of the mini.

Howzit Funnies #2 ends with a more playful take on the creator-tools relationship, with a pencil looking incredibly stupid (big nose, mis-matched eyes) and a paper whose wit is as sharp as its nagging tongue and gesturing hand. The bald creator (looking a bit like a cartoon version of Ike) decides to do away with both of them, saving himself the grief. It's a cute ending for the book, and again displayed Cohen's range.

Howzit Funnies #2 is a great little humor book from a man who understands how to make the genre work, and I hope the time between issues 2 and 3 isn't nearly as long, because I'd love to see more of this soon.