Friday, August 01, 2003


By Bob Byrne

NEILL says:

MBLEH! is an indy comic book written, drawn and published by modern Irish renaissance man Bob Byrne. This is a man so confident in his talents that he thinks nothing of giving his comic a name that is basically unpronounceable and even if you can manage it, sounds a bit like someone being sick. Way to generate strong word-of-mouth! (Of course, I can hardly criticise others when it comes to choosing ill-thought-out names; at least Mr. Byrne hasn't set himself up to be known as 'that dumbass guy'.)

Still, never mind. MBLEH! is a thoroughly enjoyable collection of stories from Byrne's singularly fecund imagination, ranging from surrealist action-adventure to bitterly misanthropic autobiography. The disparate stories are bound together by a common tone of sleazily hallucinogenic bad taste, pitched somewhere between Gilbert Shelton's Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers and early Irvine Welsh; whilst there's not nearly so many explicit drug references, there's definitely an air of being on something. And not necessarily something good. Cockroaches wearing papier-mache human masks, gangs of glue-addicted juvenile contract killers... it's all quite substantially messed up.

The absolute highlight of all this is the lead feature 'Clam Land', which features the ongoing adventures of the utterly perverted and morally corrupt Penzram, his insanely violent ice-cool-muthafucka pal Lucas, and his mentally-retarded coprophile infant nephew Herby in the colourful setting of Clamtown. Think Uncle Scrooge's Duckburg, but with more crack whores and bum rapists. Basically, this is one of the funniest things you're ever going to read, as long as you find jokes about AIDS and child mental illness funny. Which, clearly, I do. If you can see past the explicit violence and teddy-bear-fucking you will find a classic sitcom family structure, built around a central set of relationships that are really rather sweet.

So, yes. It's an excellent comic, and everyone should go and read it. Even you people who "don't read comics". You watch South Park, don't you? You read the Onion? You like things that are funny, yes? What's the matter with you? If we lived in a world with any kind of natural justice, Bob Byrne would be as famous as.. oh, I don't know, Carol Vorderman. At least.


Full ordering details and lots of fun stuff besides are to be found at - go have a look, it's great.

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