I LOVE a good comedic duo—and writer Jeff Parker and artist Erika Moen are as classic a laugh 'n' chuckle team as you could dream up in old Sogtown. Their collaboration, the Portland-based murder-mystery comic Bucko, originated as a web comic in the winter of 2011, and now Dark Horse has collected the story in a handsome hardcover filled with extra tidbits (ignore the jabberjawing footnotes from Parker and Moen and you won't be worse for wear). While technically a murder mystery, Bucko is straight-up comedy, sprinkled with saucy characters and more Portland situations than you can shake a kombucha mother at.
Rich "Bucko" Richardson is an effeminate Portland slacker who wakes from a drunken stupor—where he slept through a threeway opportunity!—to be epically late for a much-needed job interview. Dressed in a borrowed blouse, his bowels rebel mid-interview and as he frantically tries to make it to the toilet, he discovers a murdered body on the bathroom floor. It's up to his love interest Gyp, a spunky octopus-lovin' Etsy icon, and her team of bike-riding misfits to get Bucko off the hook. And if the gang sounds a wee bit too whimsical for your tastes, I beg to differ. The lactating SuicideGirl, Gyp's bull dyke roommate, and a frenemy Juggalette are all solid gold. As are the steampunk layabouts, the track-standing Pixies cover band (the Fixies, natch!), and the loveable-yet-gassy homeless miscreant the Fartmonger.
Parker and Moen excel at putting their motley crew through the Scooby-Doo rigmarole. Bucko disappears halfway through the story, and that's when Gyp & Co.'s story starts to shine. Particularly when Moen, creator of the funniest depiction of a Juggalette I've seen, unleashes her Faygo swiller. Parker, who's known for his writing on Marvel superhero comics, is also pretty damned funny. Take this call to arms for a host of hobo Juggalos: "Methy Joe! Alamo! Gooch! Puzzlenutz!" Now that's a word poem! Parker's writing is sharp, while Moen's clever drawings are a pleasure to behold. They seem to bring out the best in each other—it just so happens that their best involves tripping balls on absinthe, pitch-perfect Insane Clown Posse parlance, loads of sperm, and a hobo shanty village that puts the wharf-town of Robert Altman's Popeye to shame. I consider that last bit pretty high praise.