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15 March 2008

T. Avery's DIRTHEADS 2 & 3

Dirtheads issues 2 and 3 by T. Avery.
Issue 2 is 19 pages. Black and white cover and interior. $1.00.
Issue 3 is 10 pages. Color cover and black and white interior. $2.00.
Both issues are 8 1/2" x 5 1/2".
Available for sale here.

From reading the comics and visiting T. Avery's website, I get the impression that the Dirtheads comics originate as webcomic strips and are then collected into minicomics. As far as the minicomics go, it reads more like a TV sitcom than a comic strip. This is fine by me. In fact, I may be this comic series' target audience. I love sitcoms. Not so much the insert-stand-up-comedian-into-suburban-family-life kind of sitcoms but the sitcoms where the characters-are-in-a-situation-that-is-comedic kind of sitcom. The situation is pretty simple and not entirely original but it is something I can relate to; pseudo intellectual guys that are too old for grad school and bong hits spend most of their time pondering their failed relationships and failed careers instead of, you know, getting a life. At around age 24, I got a life, but if I hadn't, I fear I would be this comic. One of the characters even shares the same financially worthless major that I had. (The website even has several strips on bookselling. Something I did for over six years. And since I'm in the linking mood, the world needs more Doom Patrol fan art. Can't get enough Doom Patrol fan art.)
Issue 2 is presented in faux newspaper style like the Onion. The faux headline reads "Area Man Meets Area Woman". It is that kind of mundane cliche life around which the comedy is based. I find cliche's fascinating because they are usually based in the fact that everyone one makes the same clumsy mistakes in life. When executed well, like Avery's riff on picking up a girl in a cafe, the cliches can be pretty funny. But, like even some of the best TV sitcoms, not all of the jokes are hits. Some of the slackers-on-the-couch dialog scenes are a bit forced and obvious but the characters are likable enough to carry it to the last panel's punchline. The comic's ending stays in the faux newspaper style with a clever comics version of an op/ed piece.

The third issue of Dirtheads has a color cover but a bit less substance. There is a funny story about getting a haircut for a job interview and another about the woes of a single stoner with three masters and a doctorate on the way. The strips I like the best are those where the slackers actually interact with women but this issue has less of that than issue 2.

Both in webcomic and minicomic form, Avery's pacing and comic timing are strong. It may be just a side effect of collecting strips together as a comic but the strips work as short little scenes and the beats hit just right. Like many decent sitcoms, Avery alternates between groups of characters quickly without lingering too far past each scene's punchline. As I said in my review of Rappaccini's Daughter, I really like the way Avery draws faces and it works well for this study in the comedy of the mundane. It may be hard for me to be objective because, as I said earlier, I may very well be this comic's target audience, but I would be glad to see many more episodes, err, issues of this series.

Your best pal ever,
Shannon Smith
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