Webcomics You Should Have Read: ‘Perry Bible Fellowship’
It started innocently enough, folks, I swear. I was patrolling my normal series of blogs, whence I came upon a startlingly funny little comic. Instantly I thought “Hey! Another opportunity to share with the masses an ongoing, intelligent, mildly offensive online comic! And again without fail, I find yet another online comic worthy of praise… that had already been deemed dead. But, my gentle readers (and my gentile readers too), I again choose to share with you a comic to be lifted on high and praised as “A Webcomic You Should Have Read!”. I give you The Perry Bible Fellowship. (Note: at this point henceforth when I declare things like this, you should quickly load up an MP3 of “O Fortuna Carmina Burana” and pour yourself a fine glass of Burgundy. If neither are available, a reasonable alternative would be a cassette single of "Step By Step" by NKOTB, and pour yourself a slop bucket full o’ Mountain Dew.)
I admit I find many things to be funny–religious zealots, explosions, bum fights, british curtness, farting, and my fiancé’s face when she’s asleep… and truly, this little strip seems to cover all those bases well, and then some*. A brief history tells us:
The Perry Bible Fellowship (or PBF) is a newspaper comic strip and webcomic by Nicholas Gurewitch. It originated in the Syracuse University newspaper The Daily Orange. The comics are usually three or four panels long, and are generally characterized by the juxtaposition of whimsical childlike imagery or fantasy with extremely morbid, surreal humor. Common themes include irony, religion, sexuality, war, science fiction, suicide, violence, and death.
The comic received its title, taken from the name of a church in Maine, in its Daily Orange incarnation.
Let’s dive in, shall we?
There’s no continuity to be bothered with here… just solid jokes. The entire archive sits in one crazy long list, allowing those of you with a plethora of time on your hands the ability to randomly click on titles till your clicking finger falls off. In this author’s personal opinion (which we know you all yearn to hear, and repeat as if it was your own, and please… be my guest to) the best strips involve simple humanoids acting in the cruelest of manners. With limited facial expression and truly violent concepts, generally involving kids, or scientists… there’s just so much to be loved here. In addition to that, much like our friends over at “PLIF” (see my last article, in case you’re new to all of this), there is plenty of commercial character humiliation and homicide.
Suffice to say the strip’s been on the receiving end of it’s fair share of success already. Since it’s humble beginnings, the strip has won the Ignatz Award for Outstanding Online Comic in 2005 and 2006, the Web Cartoonist’s Choice Award for outstanding comic in 2006 and 2007, eight Web Cartoonist’s Choice Awards in various categories, the 2007 Harvey Award for "Best Online Comics Work" (beating out our own EZ Street, but we aren’t bitter, dammit) and most recently In July 2008, Perry Bible Fellowship: The Trial of Colonel Sweeto and Other Stories won an Eisner Award.
Surely now we might say “wow, how could I not have heard of such a prestigious webcomic?" With all these awards… is it really all that funny, or just well lobbied amongst the academy? Well, allow me now to ease your surly questions with the following evidence:
• No one ever expects the Butterfly.…
• Now I realize why I hate doctors
• Tetris can be used in everyday situations too!
• The ugly truth of the Lumberjacks
• The Jungle, by Roald Dahl
• Suck on this, Alanis.
• Note to ComicMix readers: Eye Lasers? Always funny.
• No one ever expects the Butterfly… again,
• Sorry, no dying today Rick.
Drama: Certain strips can tend to enhance the “dramatic tension” though extremely well modeled scenes, but face it folks, I don’t dole out my love for “dramatic” anything.
Humor: Dynamite + Unsuspecting Pig = Bacon.
Continuity: If you find some, you either looked into the strip better than I did, or more likely, you’ve been up too long drinking lattes and you’re finding connections where there shouldn’t be any… now go back to bed.
Art: I’m truly impressed at both the breadth, and techniques used in the strips. With styles ranging from the simplistic, to what could only be described as awe-inspiring given that it’s only for a comic strip… Mr. Gurewitch obviously honed his craft well, and the execution of strips like this show a love of using traditional media still in this very digital world.
Archive: You get a nice long list of 205 strips to enjoy. I’d say that’s at-least an afternoon’s worth of hilarity.
Updates: Per a sidebar note, we can rejoice that there may be more PBF to consume in the future. “In February of 2008, Nick stopped doing it weekly so he could do other things. He hasn’t made one in a while, but he might soon.” So, maybe if we all join hands, and purchase the new hardcover collection or a tee shirt, he might dole out more of the funnies, eh?
Risk/Reward: It’s just like those Gideon Bibles they leave in the hotels… totally free. So, enjoy it while it’s still luke warm folks. Otherwise, you might end up like this…
* Ok, I lied, this strip doesn’t cover the funny face my fiance makes when she’s asleep, but for the sake of argument, if they did, I should be a little creeped out, right?