Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Review: Cheap Laffs #1,2 & 3 by Nate Higley & Tavi Lux Veraldi (& Friends)

Some comics are done purely for fun and the artist's own amusement and that can give it an immediate, infectious appeal. Cheap Laffs started out as a comix jam between Nate Higley and Tavi Lux Veraldi, and they've kept the spirit of this playful spontaneity going throughout the 3 issues. Coming out of Ann Arbor, MI, with a production ethic somewhere between Underground Mini-Comix and punk zines, Cheap Laffs is great value and good gross-out fun .

The two sparring partners are a good double-act, occassionally appearing in the strips (and on the covers), depicting themselves in self-deprecating ways and highlighting their own twisted humour.

The comics have lots of influences running through them; everything from slapstick cartoon violence, horror film spoofs, surreal comedy, Japanese monster movies, to everyday lowlives behavingly badly.

Some of the comics remind me slightly of early Johnny Ryan or Evan Dorkin, or something out of a John Waters movie.

For a few examples, the comics include:

-A psychological horror spoof involving a crazed sadist and some terrorised chickens.

-Anthropomorphised artist tools fall prey to the x-acto knife

-A cavalcade of deviants introduce a first timer to 'Sex Pops'; an ice-lolly ad for the discerning perv.

-A middle-aged man doing something I never wanted to see with a Hello Kitty accessory

-A group of kid's getting a stomach-churning 'treat' they never bargained for on Halloween night.

My favourite strips however, feature a pair of trailer park metalhead ne'er-do-wells referred to only as 'Dude' & Brah'. These two keepers of the mullet make Beavis & Butthead look like Siskel & Ebert. Always on the look out for 'pelt' (or any makedo substitute), their strips follow their mis-adventures which include a mission to get tampons for mom, and getting dolled up in makeup and attempting to woo a Christian Metal chick, which spans a two-parter in issues 2 & 3 and has a very funny and rather nasty finale.

Higley & Veraldi also enlist the help of their friends/ guest artists Noelle Barby, Matt Hansen & Janet Nelson, for a few fun collaborations that work well. And issue #3 has a really nice illustration/ pin-up of one of the dude/brah characters by Nick Melody.

Also of note, issue #3 comes with a very cool attached flexi-disc record with 5 Ann Arbor punk & hardcore bands covering the same track “Make Babies Or Die Trying”. An accompanying comic by Steve Peterson & Josh-Redd Sanchez explains the origins of this song, and how it became a local comedic anthem with a cult following, and a tradition at local gigs.

At only $3 dollars for a record and a 20 page comic, this makes Cheap Laffs #3 a steal. And issues 1 & 2 are only a buck each (or trade) if they haven't sold out already.

To get your hands on a copy, email nicfitcomics@gmail.com before they run out.

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