Friends (in name only), when I say “Chumble Spuzz“, I hope the very mention results in you losing control of all bodily functions, screaming in agony as the laughter tears through you even hours later as you shower the unspeakable soup of your own filth from your lower half. I hope this is the effect those words have on you because that means you’re already familiar with comic book of that very name, the book that, for those of you who haven’t read it, you should be making every possible effort to get your hands on at all costs.
I picked the two digest-sized issues of Chumble Spuzz up at this most recent San Diego Comicon, and if I’m not mistaken, the first issue came out sometime last year, though I could be wrong (once in awhile I throw in a wrong just to mix things up a bit). Generally, my last day at any convention, I try to escape the booth a bit to pick up any books that catch my eye, but my actual comic book reading time is fairly sporadic, despite the WALL-E style towers of unread books that have accrued from conventions or just the odd visits to comic shops, some of them actually going back years since being picked up. Chumbluzz was just one series in that most recent haul, but for whatever reason, instead of sitting around for years, I read both issues back to back not long after my donkey got me back home from con.
I actually can’t recall the last time a comic made me laugh as hard as this one did as well as immediately fill me with an immense respect for what Ethan Nicolle has done in these works of brilliantly executed stupidity. SLG, the same monsters that publish my books, definitely did the right thing in suckering Ethan into delivering some of the best stuff I’ve seen come out of them since the glory days when I single-handedly gave lovers of masterful comedy their sole reason to EXIST. That’s not to imply that everything else isn’t as funny or put together as nicely, but reading both issues of Chuzz, I kept getting hit with the feeling that I was reading something that someone genuinely LOVED doing, the way you do when watching a certain movie that has such a positive sense of identity, or a game where the mechanical nature of the genre just gives way to that aura of love for the creation of the thing, no matter how serious, no matter how silly (and this particular end-product has some hideously retarded shit in it).
“But what’s it about, Jhonen?” you ask, getting way too close to me for comfort, prompting me to tilt my head oh-so-slightly at my bowler-hatted manservant/lunatic. Before his Thanksgiving turkey-sized hands wrap around your face, crushing your head like Superman creating a diamond of compressed bone and meat for my collecting of murder-bling, I will tell you what it’s about, in not so many words. Issue #1’s about the main characters winning a demonic pig and eventually heading into Hell where they plot the death of Satan, and issue #2’s about a man who thinks he’s a pigeon, and, really, all you have to know is that there’s an incredible story about Cookie Monster, and another one about a bloodthirsty chicken, and all of it is great. The shorter story in issue #2, “Death Sings the Blues”, alone is worth the price of admission into this series, working up a mythology as well-developed as it is awesome that I almost wished it was its own full issue. Why there isn’t a synopsis for the second issue on Wikipedia already, I just dunno. Get it already. Manservant will hold off until you’ve read it so you’ll at least die happy.
Speaking of the earlier books I did with SLG, like Johnny or SQUEE!, I couldn’t help but read Chubluzz, the first books of Ethan’s I know of, and see just how well composed and thought out the madness within is, how beautifully everything comes together at the end of each story like some supercollider of fantastically awful things. Every artist is likely their worst critic, but I wish JTHM was half as thought out as either issue of Chubz, and I actually mean that. JTHM was thrown together and then, as an eventual afterthought, sewn together with the barest gristle of cohesive narrative. In its way, JTHM’s stream of conscious approach worked in its psychotic favor, but what would have worked even better is if it all came together in a way that let you know that the person behind it managed to really pull something off, not by accident or clever ass-saving twist of writing, but because they knew where they were taking you from the get go, even if all you saw early on was lunacy and chaos. With its possessed pigs and horrific cookie beasts, mangaroos and way too many naked old men, Chumble Spuzz never really has to reign it all in because it never seems to lose control of them all. I think the first sign of me ever getting close to that was I Feel Sick, but even then it gets crammed in and never has a chance to breathe, and still relies on the seemingly unrelated vignettes without trusting a fully focused-on storyline. No idea if Nicolle himself thinks this, and who knows, maybe it’s purely accidental, with the reality being that he makes the book by roaring and punching at bristol board with ink-dipped fists while his family prays that he doesn’t notice they’re in the room, praying that he doesn’t take his barely sentient animal rage out on them. Either way, the end result is pure polish, and polished ridiculousness is rare as hell as far as I’m concerned. Have you picked it up yet? Yeah? Okay, Manservant, smash.
So the book’s gotten some fine reviews and mentions from what I can tell, but until Ethan’s able to replace all of his skin with gold and drive around in his diamond-encrusted Power Wheels, I won’t be happy and neither should you be because these are the books that should be doing right by their creators, and this is a creator deserving of whatever freakish new skin they want. This isn’t just the funniest thing I’ve seen come out of SLG in a long time, but it’s also one of the best things I’ve picked up all in all simply for the fact that it took a bat to the usual noise in my brain and just made me laugh, hand the first issue over to a friend while I started reading the second, enjoying the sound of someone else’s laughter and knowing they probably got to the part where the pig explodes through the fat kid’s torso. And before you go and think that the image I just painted is a sad one, what with two grown people in the same room reading comics when they should be out partying and discussing math, know that the other person was a hot supermodel that I am simply using for their taste in comics.
If just a few of you faceless horde out there give Chubbyfuzz a go, my work here will be done. I know a lot of the people that read my stuff are afraid to venture anywhere outside of that horrible section in the comic shop where the owner’s pile all the “dark” and “spoooky” comics, but Ethan’s lucky enough to have escaped that dreaded fate and place, so look for the damned thing and toss a match on that spooky section on your way out. The really good stuff’s somewhere else in the shop.