If you’re looking for an irreverent action/comedy comic that pokes fun at the superhero genre, Funrama by Ryan Kelly is the book for you. Best known for his work on Vertigo’s Lucifer and Local from Oni Press, Kelly is a prolific artist currently working on numerous titles, including Three from Image Comics and his own original web comic, Cocotte. I can’t recommend Kelly’s work enough, but today I’ll focus on Funrama, his indie passion project and love letter to the absurd. The first issue is free to read from FunramaComic.com and the second and third issues available for purchase, both in print and digital formats. Believe me, they are definitely worth checking out.
This tongue-in-cheek romp takes on the familiar genre conventions of cape books – super powers, interdimensional weirdness, and anthropomorphic critters – and runs amok. Based on a series by the same name that Kelly produced in his youth, it features the Mutant Punks, a team of super-powered radicals bent on taking over America. Led by the swashbuckling Concord, they came from a rift in the Bermuda Triangle to wreak havoc wherever they can, including the Mall of America, the Louvre, and the White House. Concord is aided in this anarchistic spree by his girlfriend Twisterella, the living metal man Lead Head, the ghostly troublemaker Fog, and Bombcat, a cat who loves bombs. The cast feel as though they stepped from the pages of underground comics of the 80s and 90s, but makes its allusions to superhero genre clear. This is a book intimately knows and loves what it mocks, and it shows through clever creative choices and social commentary.
The cast draws on genre convention and character archetypes in amusing ways to satirize cape books and commercialism in general. In the hands of a less capable creator, this could definitely become muddled or overly silly, but Kelly strikes a strong balance between thoughtful parody and the juvenile absurdity that the genre tends to lend itself to. While the book pokes fun at the American way of life, it doesn’t get bogged down with needless political commentary, and keeps things moving at a strong clip. The quality of the artwork for a one-man production team is stellar and Kelly’s dialogue throughout the issue is excellent, with well-paced jokes that often had me laughing out loud. The humor is the big draw of this book, I find, even beyond the energetic line work and tight scripting. Like its over-the-top characters, this book is endearingly crass, just like good punks ought to be.
From start to finish, this is a fun and witty read that pulls no punches. Whether you’re a fan of Ryan Kelly or just discovering his work for the first time, I highly recommend giving Funrama a look. You can also find more on Kelly and his work at his blog.