Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Laffs with Garth Ennis

Having said how much I hated it, I now feel compelled to talk a little bit more about Sleeze 'N Ryder. All the way through you can tell it's a Garth Ennis strip. It has equal parts violence and humour, often seemingly in competition. And although he pushes both buttons on every page of this tale, it so rarely works for me that I can scarcely believe how much I loved Preacher, and indeed many other of Ennis's works.

Here's a sample page:

Do you see what I mean? I don't have a problem with jokes about vomit - or maybe I do? I almost think there's something wrong with me for not being automatically tickled by the idea of a character who's essence is being unclean. And this extends to the strip as a whole, which seems to have the same theme. Likewise the whole 'inbred gang of mutants' thing. Now, I can see that having a Cursed Earth based humour strip necessitates featuring some comedy mutants, but why does Ennis's sense of funny jar with mine so much in this respect? At least Nick Percival doesn't disappoint with his mutant designs. And his outrageous muscleage on the titular heroes is fun to look at as well.

Now, confession time. There was one thing about Sleeze N Ryder that did make me laugh out loud, right in the final episode. Ennis is always handy with a pop culture reference (Like, Sleeze N Ryder are similar to the two leads in Easy Rider - geddit?)

The whole evil American robot bird and fish bit was inoffensive; the use of three ex-presidents was mildly funny, even, if a bit blatant. But the fourth oresident - well! OK, so not that funny to build up the idea of some raving nutter who will surely blow up everything (especially since the whole background of the Cursed Earth is the result of a president - Bad Bob Booth to be precise), and then have him turn out to be Arnold Schwarzenegger. I mean, sure, it's a pretty obvious joke to make about Arnie being a bad and warmongering choice for president (and, strangely, still a relatively likely one), but it's a bit too obvious, you know? Also, not particularly funny to house his brain in a robotic toilet, although I guess that's in keeping with the rest of the strip.

But, when said robotic brain finally appears, the laughs can begin, for Ennis's use of actual Arnie is note perfect.

(sorry about the appalling scanning quality, by the way. But then, it's not a strip that deserves much care and attention)

Put simply, I'm a fan of Arnie movies - as I imagine many a 2000 AD-ophile is, too. And Ennis has done a superb job of picking relatively obscure quotes, and transcribing them perfectly into that weird AustrianAmerican accent. In all, the episode has about 7 choice Arnie lines which it's fun to check off against his back catalogue. "Do yoo know Miranda?" Is that even a quote? (well yes, it is, from Red Heat, but I never thought of it as a classic one-liner or anything.) The point is that Ennis picked on a joke I can get behind, and I liked it. Which sort of makes me feel like a hypocrite for hating the rest of the series. I don't know.

In case anyone else wants to get in on the joke, here are the other quotes from that episode:
"So vy not yoos the veglah awmee?"
"Your clowths - gif them to me."
"Consider yorselvf diforsed."
"He hat to split"
"Ve're a vescue team - not assassins."


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