Deep Fried: The Hero’s Journey (#1 – 2) – Jason Yungbluth

3 out of 5

Deep Fried returns.  Yes, it’s more of mostly the same: of Roadkill scheming and abusing Beepo; of Beepo trying not to be a perv and failing; of Squints… well, things have changed for Squints, now channeling his narrow-vision curmudgeon-ness into being a wage slave at a video store.

And things have also changed for writer / creator Jason Yungbluth, whose pages (posted in pieces on his website and collected into issues here) look pretty fantastic, smartly using spot colors with an otherwise two-tone color vibe to either save time or perhaps to punctuate the timing; Jason’s become a better visual storyteller in the intervening years, with a developed sense of what his particular cartooning style is capable of achieving.  The story is also pretty focused, and bounces between more despicable stuff and light social commentary (on tech; on money; on politics) so that we don’t always feel like we’re mired in clown spunk.

Now whether or not this works for you will ultimately be down to whether or not you find Jason’s work funny.  Jason slots into the gross-out cadre of cartoonists, mostly due to his subject matter (child abuse seems to be a common topic…), but he tends to actually write plots around this stuff and not explicitly just fall back on it for throwaway shock gags.  Which has always been… weird, because we’re our protagonist is a sex offender, and his roommate is keen to help him whip up new date rape drugs.  Prior Deep Fried stuff used a lot of crass language to boot, and Yungbluth has dialed that back, which I prefer, making ‘The Hero’s Journey’ read as relatively, eh, mature for Deep Fried.

As per this whole having-a-narrative-on-a-funny-book shtick, though, it means the jokes aren’t a mile a minute.  Yungbluth’s expressive art keeps it lively, and there are a lot of funny concepts, but the zinger moments have a fair amount of padding between.

Still, for Deep Fried fans (who, like me, prefer print over digital), the material has been worth the wait, and has ‘grown up’ a bit alongside its readers.