Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Dim-witted Darryl #1

Dim-witted Darryl #1, June 1998, SLG Publishing
by Michael Bresnahan

Another book by Slave Labor Graphics. Dim-witted Darryl, billed as the world’s dumbest mammal, is a simple-minded creature starring in a simple-minded comic book. Neither of these descriptions are intended to imply that Darryl and his comic book are stupid; although this genre, cartoon/humor, isn’t my forte, I can definitely understand its appeal, and Bresnahan manages to construct a few well-paced puns and gags. At the beginning of the first tale, for example, Darryl meets a new kid in his neighborhood, Chuck. Later, on an errand for his mother at the grocery store, Darryl spots a pound of ground chuck and assumes the worst has happened to his new friend. He buys the beef and buries it solemnly, while the neighbors watch:

HUSBAND: Honey, that stupid neighbor kid just buried a package of hamburger meat.
WIFE: Well, so dig it up while I light the grill!

Am I to interpret the neighbors’ compassionless retort, both for Darryl’s dim-wittedness and his unnecessary but still legitimate grief, as a commentary on society’s dim-wittedness in general? Or did Darryl drag me through six pages just to hit that punchlines? Either way, I was pleasantly surprised.

Unfortunately, the rest of the stories weren’t as, ahem, sophisticated, at least not in the category comedy. As comic strips, however, Bresnahan demonstrates some solid ability to utilize the logistics of the page to his advantage. Characters bursting from panels, heavy doses of black to contrast the otherwise stagnant background, all imply that this series is destined to get better with age. This is, after all, the first issue. But with the term dim-witted in the title, how complicated can things really get?

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