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Thursday, February 18, 2010

Screw Heaven, When I Die I'm Going to Mars. Shannon Wheeler (Writer & Artist). Dark Horse Comics (2007)

This is a collection of Shannon Wheeler's brilliant, sharp and very funny cartoons. There are strips about religion, romance, some featuring the costumed anti-hero Too Much Coffee Man and some about the struggle involved in simply being alive. All are drawn with a deceptive simplicity that makes the very pointed writing a pleasure to read. The strips are full of life and vitality, bursting with a wonderful expressiveness. Shannon Wheeler neatly avoids bitterness or rancour, he catches the stubborn humour that lies within the struggle not to out-think ourselves.
The strips are mostly concerned with anxiety, the gnawing uncertainty that casually undermines our actions before we even commit them. Shannon Wheeler creates comedy out of doubt and advance regret, he is able to frame it so that it is both recognisable and fantastic. He is also more than willing to put himself on the spot as much as any of his fictional characters.
These comics take the reader seriously, they are clever and artfully created and they are a pleasure to read. Too Much Coffee Man is a wonderful character, he is so crippled by anxiety that he should be annoying and slightly repulsive, instead he is engaging and truthful. His actions are horribly understandable and the defeats he suffers frequently self inflicted. They are never vindictive and that makes all the difference. These are superb cartoon by a hugely talented creator.

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