Cheap Laughs is a comedy anthology from East London publisher Backwards Burd. It’s an anarchic affair, closer in style to the ‘comix’ of the underground art scene in the 60s than the comics you might be familiar with. It has loads of contributing creators- Daniel de Sosa, Songgu Kwon, Sajan Rai, Shane Melisse, Jimmy Cliftlands, Anna Dowsland, Matt Boyer, Matt Duncan, Matt Duncan and Milos Satikidis. It’s all over the place, really, which makes it huge damn fun, so I’m going to get in with the spirit of things and offer 13 little reviews instead of one big boring one.
“Streams of Pisskey”: A father takes his son to see a musician he worships, who is a psychedelic cat. Weirdly touching and endearingly stupid parody of father-son muso love-ins. Also contains the most amazing picture of a cat’s anus that you’ll ever see. But really, it is- and that’s thanks to De Sosa’s art, which is detailed, subversive, and fun.
“Elf “: Non-sequitur humour derived from that beautiful archetype of fantasy, a killer svelte elf in the woods. Incredibly clear black-and-white with stark lines and a great sense of action. Best and bonus points for ‘back-up strip’ style ‘Rat, Crab & Kid Head’ comic, which is inexplicable genius. And extra points on top for having a back-up strip for a comic of this length.
“Kicky Poo: Wedding Smacka”: Finally a hero we can all relate to, Kicky Poo is a bird that fucks up weddings by kicking everything in the face. This simple concept is pushed to breaking point and beyond with a genius final twist. Aided by the deliberately simple art, this is a work of escapist genius. A MUST-READ.
“Brocko ‘n Frens”: A stupid, stupid plan to get girls (the best kind of stupid plan) is carried out in Sajan Rai’s high-school tale. Interesting how evocative of real life situations this strip is- namely getting accidentally roped into a stupid idea by your friends- despite having a teddy bear, a baby seal and Brocko, a dolphin (?) for main characters.
“Shit-For-Brains-Titan’s Dollhouse”: In epic, disturbing art with a true sense of style, Shit-For-Brains-Titan turns out to be exactly as described. This is a tiny comic about big things, sort of like a haiku but with a massive robot.
“Pickles & Chips: The Chase”: The eponymous Pickles & Chips (fantastically named buddy adventurers) flee a giant dragon who is surprisingly humble. Nice poppy colours, even if the panel order is a little confusing.
“Bard School”: Dan’s back at it again. Clean lines, nice character designs, and an on-going story (well, online, not in this anthology) make this a great read.
“Invertebrae of Petty Beach”: A divertissement, centred around parodying biological textbooks. Way funnier than I made it sound. In fact, more funny than that first sentence was pretentious.
“Tales of the Mundane” :A fresh perspective on swords-and-sorcery fantasy work. Maybe a bit too sobering if you’re a hardcore Skyrim player.
“Stuff Other People Do” & “Dog Eat Dog” & “James Spade: Birthday Blues”: I’ve grouped these together for two reasons: firstly, they’re all newspaper-style three panel comics, and secondly, because of that, they’re so short that if I tell you anything about them I’ll just ruin them. They made me laugh, and you should buy this comic. How’s that?
“The Coldest Place on Earth!”: Spot-on riff on Harvey Kurtzman. Worth it just for the boogiest character face you’ll see at LFCC. I mean it, the guy’s face is pure boogie. He is loving the hell out of boogieing around the floor.
“Correct Condom Disposal”: Another of Rai’s one-page wonders, this shows a rather disturbed living condom giving advice on how to dispose of him. It is super weird and super funny, and very well drawn.
“The Riddle”: Not a comic but a riddle. And no idea to solve it. That’s it, I’m giving up. See you at LFCC.