Blecky Yuckerella vol. 1 TPB – Johnny Ryan

5 out of 5

She’s got a beard, and moles, and smelly breath, and holey underwear. Her best friend – whom she maybe hates, or doesn’t care about – is named Wedgie. “Rich Bucksley” pays kids to lick dog poo. Aunt Jiggles and her giant bosom and preference for “Kentucky trumpets”; vomiting cat Insanio. Welcome to Johnny Ryan’s newspaper gag strip Blecky Yuckerella, she of that opening description. While the gross-out gags and nonsense logic (characters will often die, or be completely different strip to strip; new characters are introduced for single gags; sometimes they’re all robots; etc.) will be nothing new to Johnny’s fans, I do think that Blecky is the perfect representation of the way his humor can straddle both Nickelodeon and the underground, and also act as a great intro to new readers. Ryan’s jokes can be a little try-hard in the world of Angry Youth Comix, and the Sunday comic look of Blecky is more immediately recognizable to your lay comic fan, which makes the overall gag of how Blecky is very much not a Sunday comic that much more obvious. But, more studiously, this is also where to spot Ryan’s visual abilities as well, boiling the ridiculous down into pretty dense, always readable panels, where the laff always comes where intended. It seems simple, but given how much stuff Johnny throws in here – different setups, the surreality, different settings – representing it so cleanly / readably really is a skill.

At about 100 pages, you get just enough of this to be satisfied but not exhausted by it, and Fantagraphics’ textured cover, clear printing, and undersized dimensions (6″ x 9″), give it a nice mix of disposable / toss it in yer bag and professionalism – perfect for Johnny’s Class A trash.

Reading this about 15 years after the fact, there’re probably some words Ryan would not use, or use more cautiously nowadays – this was they heydey for this kind of button-pushing humor – and rape was always a very constant source of yuks in the artist’s material from this era. But, again, this isn’t AYC, and the frequency of that stuff is much less, in favor of moreso nonsense and gross-out stuff, making it much, much more rereadable without the “oof, that hasn’t aged well” moments of some of his other material.