Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Comic Strip "Perry Bible Fellowship" Becomes Semi-Retired

In my continuing bid to claim the title of "Official WNE Comic Correspondent," I write to you all with sincere sadness at the news that Nicholas Gurewtich is moving his excellent comic strip Perry Bible Fellowship to the back burner. Gurewitch made the announcement fresh on the heels of releasing a book of selected strips, and appearing on Fox News (of all things).

PBF, as it is often abbreviated, is an off-beat comic strip that appears both in print and on the web. An award winning strip, two Ignatz awards among others, it's known for its varying artistic styles and often dark sense of humor.


What a first time reader of PBF will realize is that PBF can be scary, gross, or even down-right disturbing but always funny. Gurewitch has a profound skill for the unexpected, and creating truly uncanny situations that surprise even the most ardent reader. It's the kind of comic that sometimes makes you cringe a little bit -- just a little -- after you finish a strip. Decapitations, cat drowning, death, evangelism, and questionable parenting never felt this good.

Common in Gurewitch's comics is putting the reader in a truly unique environment in every strip. The kind of place where dinosaurs have telepathic discussions with each other, or where an unrequited lover can attempt to prove himself in the worst possible way. It's not just Gurewitch's punchlines, the set-ups of PBF are golden, and shine with a genuine wit and intelligence not often seen in modern humor (let alone comics). For instance, in his strip titled "Preserves," Gurewitch explores a world inhabited by human-like beings who have peanut butter or jelly jars for heads. It works so well that the first panel could stand on it's own, but of course it doesn't and ends brilliantly.

What the artistically minded tend to celebrate most, and what is obvious to even a layman such as myself, is that Gurewitch commands more artistic styles than most comic artists. Equally comfortable with Chinese brush styles, gothic Gorey-eque work, or a heavily detailed style, to name but a few, Gurewitch is a true renaissance artist. These styles aren't just for show, either. Instead they inform and enhance whatever place Gurewitch takes us. Unlike many strips which are often constrained in their styles, PBF explored whole new visual worlds.

PBF's reputation as a horrifically funny and ingenious strip will not be taken anytime soon, and though it will be missed by its readers (this author included) it has offered a funnier, more complex counter to an industry often filled with mediocrity.


Mos Def Daniel said...

modern culture doesn't recognize or appreciate quality!

jgarfink said...

I will miss it very much.