Last year (still feels weird calling stuff that still feels pretty recent “last year”), I reviewed Jakey the Jerk #1 by cartoonist Chris Garrison, a print collection of stories from his Zoo Laffs webcomic. Now, Garrison is back with Onion Puss #1, collecting the adventures of another Zoo Laffs character. With Jakey the Jerk, I commented on how I was left cold at first, but was gradually won over by the end of the issue. Did Onion Puss turn out to be similar?
Onion Puss certainly has similar traits to Jakey the Jerk: both comics start with a series of shorts about personified cartoon characters trying and failing to chat up women, before segueing into a longer, more substantial story about the same character and the beginnings of a more meaningful relationship. The main difference in dynamic is that whereas mountain goat Jakey was a sleazy womaniser ogling multiple women, onion-faced thing Onion Puss is more of a desperate, skeevy creeper making numerous disastrous attempts to win over the same girl, disinterested Priscilla. While last time round I wasn’t overly impressed with the comedy shorts that opened up the comic, this time I enjoyed them more, laughing out loud on the first page and similarly enjoying the second punchline. The larger story, meanwhile, about an eventful “ghost hunt” in a haunted house, gives us a nice switcheroo in the dynamic, complicating Onion Puss’ pining for Priscilla by throwing in the more receptive Holly as another potential love interest for Onion Puss.
The inclusion of the Holly character is probably the issue’s greatest strength. She surprisingly walks away with some of the funniest lines – including a hooter of a curveball at the end – and seems like a better match for the oblivious Onion Puss than haughty Priscilla, largely because unlike her she actually likes him. I’m not sure if we’re supposed to view chubby Holly as plainer than petite Priscilla, but if that’s the case it didn’t really register for me. Maybe it’s because I’m naturally inclined to find curvy ladies more attractive than skinny girls. So all I could think once Holly was introduced is that Onion Puss really needed to ditch his hopeless advances on Priscilla and get with the better deal.
Onion Puss himself is a strange character. At times he feels inconsistent, occasionally veering more into Jakey sleazeball territory, where he works least well. But Onion Puss is played at his best as a cloying, clingy “nice guy” figure who is chronically unable to be cool or talk to women, going from funnily pathetic to surprisingly actually making us feel sorry for him and his crummy life. Given the cartoonish, Ren & Stimpy like art style, you’d be surprised to see the protagonist contemplating suicide. And at one point the line “I mostly just stay curled up on my bathroom floor and cry all the time” is offhandedly thrown out there, it’s surprisingly moving, even moreso in that it’s deflated by the character he says this too laughing, thinking he’s joking.
Chris Garrison’s Zoo Laffs over on Dumm Comics is proving fertile ground for new comedy characters. This is the second in the row I’ve been introduced to whose further adventures I’d be interested in reading. If you’re in the mood to try something a little different, it could be worth a shot!
Onion Puss #1 is available to buy from IndyPlanet.