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Preview: Tozzer 2 #1
Written by Rob Dunlop
Drawn by Peter Lumby

Comedy usually comes down to the choice between two extremes: Throw everything you’ve got at ‘em or reward the audience for suffering through your pretensions with a joke now and then. Either way, your story’s going to get sidetracked by shoe-horning humor into any lengthy plotline, and it will most likely go down in flames, but, hey, you wanna make ‘em laugh, don’t ya’? (This also answers the immortal questions of why humor books don’t last and “funnies” are only four to eight panels long).

Favoring the former method, Tozzer 2 languidly crams a few dozen movie references into a tale that would otherwise be a day in the life of a Jerry Springer guest. When you strip it down, Tozzer’s latest adventure is merely an escape from adopted parents that allows him to head to school (yeah, the kid’s pretty messed up, since he’s escaping TO school). There’s an altercation with another student and the principal trots out the new head of security. And that’s it. Basically.

In actuality, Tozzer’s ass is in grave danger of being tapped by notorious pervert and monkey molester Mad Jax and his chimp Bubs (Michael Jackson and his monkey playing road warriors, natch). Tozz’s trailer-trash lesbian foster moms readily sell him out while an Oreo Sales Rep (The Oracle sans Matrix) foresees his imminent doom, but whether it’s at the hands of Jax, fellow student Eminem, or head of security Jules Winfield and his pal Yoda—who’s to say?

So, yeah, this book is frickin’ weird.

It’s also shameless, mean-spirited, occasionally crude, unabashedly shallow, and offensive to pop sensibilities. Kinda fun, too. The underlying Harry Potter plotline ties the random gags down just enough to keep things from getting confusing, and, while nothing really got me laughing out loud, the creative team did manage to squeeze a few chuckles out of some of the most tired clichés of our time (Matrix parodies, Michael Jackson child molestation jokes, Star Wars references, and jabs at Eminem and his uber-ego).

But I still have some qualms. First off, the timing doesn’t quite work. Of course, pacing is the greatest enemy of graphic narrative, since you can’t control how fast the audience reads, but there are panel mechanics that definitely could’ve helped with gag delivery. However, I think the bigger problem is the general format of the story. As a collection of gags, there’s a lot of start/stop action. Dunlop chooses not to write any chapter breaks or asides into the narrative, and I can appreciate a creator avoiding that oft-taken crutch, but it also puts a lot more pressure on him to make the story flow, and it ultimately feels more like a collection of scenes.

I think what it comes down to is I’d rather see Tozzer 2 #1 as a collected series of comic strips than a single issue. Its individual pages stand alone better than the average episode of Megatokyo and the jokes have more life to them than anything you’d find in the “funnies”. But the best gags here have painfully little to do with the story (my favorite involves the KKK building a rope swing), which only makes this issue struggle under the weight of trying to be both an efficient, plot-forwarding machine AND a gag factory.

The official Tozzer website.


Jason Schachat

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