I've said it before, and I'd bet the farm that there'll be an occasion (read: tomorrow) for me to say this again: I love to waste time on internet pop culture. Really, I'll throw away entire afternoons on blogs, online magazines, and searching out the coveted random gem. Luckily this blog exists to capitalize on my compulsion, and help funnel my guilt about the hours spent giving my heart to adorably awkward stand-up comedians or clicking through the entire archives of a web comic on one sitting. Like a snow-covered Everest climber here to recount the tale of my harrowing adventure, I hope you can learn and grow from my exploration. And by "learn and grow" I mean find a comfortable chair and start reading the excellent web comic Thingpart by the Bay Area's own Joe Sayers.
I've written about his books before, but Sayers's web comic is worth a separate mention. Reading these small, black and white strips pretty much guarantees a good laugh, and a happy reminder that there are artists who are genuinely, honestly original. Thingpart subjects and humor fall in that golden territory between inappropriate and ludicrous. There are no recurring characters, and the stories change from week to week.
In one of my favorite strips a man and woman astronaut have a dirty little plan. They approach their NASA supervisor with their idea to start a mission to study the effects of zero gravity on sex. As the supervisor applauds the idea, the couple smile at each other, all ready for some hot space action. But there's one more panel. The supervisor happily reveals that he's already arranged test subjects for their steamy study -- both sets of their parents.
I guess I could haul out the old standby of "irreverent" to describe the Thingpart style. (Usually I try to avoid that word because it always seems to pop up every time crusty old critics try to tackle things that are, you know, cool. Like the time my 63-year-old mother asked me if my day "rocked.") But here it fits, and in part because there's no one word that exists to fully capture the hilarity-meets-intelligent-angst of Sayers's humor.
The attitude of Thingpart adds to its appeal and success. Sayers' little round-headed characters smile and stare with the iconic "dots and a line" happy faces, and the drawing is simple and direct. There's a definite feel that these strips began as compulsive doodles on a long BART ride or wait at the DMV, and that Sayers really simply can't help himself. It's that "te he, look what I've done!" unstudied feel to the jokes that makes Thingpart so fun to read, and gives it the unique comics appeal of being both compelling and unpretentious.
It takes a smart person to pull off stupid humor, and it takes a smart person not be afraid of stupid humor. (Really, click on that link.) In the spirit of another of my favorites, Michael Kupperman, Sayers has firmly staked out territory as one of the funniest cartoonists working today.
Thingpart updates every Wednesday, and can be found in a few print publications across the country. Sayers also has original artwork and books available for purchase on his site, and a new title coming out next month.