Adventures of Barry Ween, Boy Genius
I haven't praised Oni Press enough lately, I figured I'd dig
through my shelves and re-introduce myself to the funniest
comic book ever produced. And luckily, you readers get to
feel the funny, too.
is one of the best writers in comic books today. He turned
Exiles, a book about alternate-reality-hopping heroes,
into one of Marvel's few gems, brought Green Lantern
more characterization than he's seen since the Green Lantern/Green
Arrow days, and is about to jump ship to not one new title,
but two (Outsiders and, oddly enough, Green Arrow).
and there's that nomination for a Pulitzer Prize for Pedro
& Me, but who cares about that really? Not like it's
an Eisner Award (which I'm pretty sure he's won).
an overachiever? Yes. Yes, he is. But he's the kind that can
pull off good comics every time.
the first time I ran across Winick was in a small collection
from Oni, The Adventures of Barry Ween, Boy Genius.
Barry is a ten year old super genius, and by super genius,
I don't mean some sissy kid who can turn a regular go-kart
into a "hi tech" go-kart by strapping a jet engine
to it. Barry has an I.Q. of about 350. His go-kart would fly
around the world in two minutes and then make a quick stop
to pick up your laundry.
spends a lot of his time experimenting and theorizing, but
spends a lot more of his time keeping his best friend Jeremy
Ramirez from screwing with his experiments (usually to little
the best part of it, they both swear like ornery truck drivers
recently released from San Quentin. This book is as foul-mouthed
as humanly possible, and Winick uses all the swears to make
the already funny situations of turning your father into a
Cro-Magnum love machine, covering up failed experiments with
the trendy use of a flamethrower, and temporarily blinding
the kid who makes fun of your grade-school crush, gust-bustingly
drops some of the best one-liners known to comics, and Jeremy
doesn't do too badly himself. One of my favorites:
Mom: "Barry! What are you doing in there?"
Barry trying to desperately dissolve and cram an octopus down
the toilet: "Masturbating! Go away!"
True potty humor.
the humor is what shines in the book, Winick adds in plenty
of action (Austrian art thieves with guns, rampaging dinosaurs,
and vaginally shaped tears in the fabric of space-time) that
makes the book read quickly, which makes the jokes appear
rapid fire. Who knew you could time a joke so well in a panel
(other than Jeff Smith)?
also has a great duo in Jeremy and Barry. Jeremy's foul mouth,
obsession with all things booby and crotchy, and his general
naiveté of the more intricate realities of the world
make him a great character to bounce off of Barry's cynical,
straight man jokes.
all the pre-adolescent swearing, both the characters are believable
ten year olds. They take weird happenings at face value and
comment on them the way a ten year old would: by making fun
of it (in response to the aforementioned space-time rip, Jeremy
calls it "a big glowing vagina." And it really is).
personal art style works spectacularly with the book, probably
because he writes the damn thing. It's cartoonish, but it's
at a level of cartoonish that I can't really compare to anyone
else. Winick really has a unique style that you have to experience
through this book or Pedro & Me to truly understand
how good it is. Or you could pick up one of the other three
Barry Ween trades in publication.
and white, but I find far too many good comics are published
black and white for it to be a coincidence, so don't be discouraged.
And it's a thin trade, equivalent to only the first three
issues of the series.
to know what makes up for it? It'll set you back a whopping
$8.95. What's almost as good as Free Comic Book Day? Cheap
Good Comic Book Day, and that day comes 365 times a year when
it comes to Barry Ween.
The Adventures of Barry Ween, Boy Genius