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Arnold, S.R. – Perry Shitlife


Perry Shitlife

So you’ve had some time to digest the madcap insanity of S.R. Arnold’s Perry Midlife comic a year ago. Are you prepared to dig into some of the darkest and/or best days of his life, aka the early years? Well, really about a few days out of one of those early years, but it’s the kind of thing that most people who are worth a damn can relate to: booze, drugs, bad decisions, good times, dank basement punk shows, working up the courage to talk to the person at the bar you’re interested in (only to have the amount of booze needed to work up said courage end up causing a blackout so you’re not entirely sure what really happened), etc. Even if you were straight edge in your formative years you can still check a few of those things off your list, but if you’re like me and manage to hit them all, boy howdy is this comic for you! I say “comic” as if this 80 page behemoth isn’t basically a graphic novel, but in a field where there’s also a solid argument for calling this a “mini comic,” it’s best not to get bogged down in semantics. What’s this comic all about, anyway? In his intro S.R. mentions that he intended to make Perry Nolife next, but since that book would have dealt with his own mortality and it wasn’t a subject he felt ready to tackle yet, why not go back in time? Things start off with a hallucination of Perry’s conscience trying to talk to him, only to get smacked across the room and smashed. Rightfully so, I say. Then we really see the kind of mess Perry is in the morning, as he ends up monopolizing the bathroom, much to the annoyance of his roommates (although it does lead to a lovely full page spread of one of them peeing out of their third story window and the general state of their neighborhood). From there we roll through a day or so in the life, starting with band practice (which ends with a broken guitar string), moving on to dive bar pizza for lunch, and finally landing on a karaoke show. This last one is critical, as it’s where Perry saw a lady last week that he’s trying to work up the courage to approach, which leads to his spectacularly terrible choice for a song. There’s also a double page spread during this sequence that has all kinds of familiar comics folks in it. See which ones you can spot! I got about half a dozen them before I resorted to cheating in the back. His terrible song does end up succeeding in getting the interest of the lady he tried awkwardly to chat with, and they end up having a long conversation on the roof. But in the light of day afterwards, can he be sure of what really happened? There’s more, as I’m barely halfway through this beast of a book, but the rest of it is for you to discover. Absolutely positively check this one out, and if you’ve got the cash I’d also recommend getting this with a copy of Perry Midlife. This one kicked the dust off of some memorable times in my brain for sure… $15

Arnold, S.R. – Perry Midlife


Perry Midlife

You know what it’s apparently impossible to find online? Information on a dude who uses initials instead of a first name. Or I’m a moron when it comes to searching, but you’d think I’ve had enough practice by now. I also find myself oddly speechless when it comes to his comic, but that’s never stopped me before, am I right? Also it’s speechless in a good way; there’s some brilliance in here that I’m still trying to wrap my head around. Describing this like a linear story also won’t do you much good, and it’s best that I just fess up and admit that the sample image isn’t close to the best representation of the style of the comic, it’s just an image that I couldn’t resist. Aw, screw it, I’ll go that route and run through some of the happenings. Things start off with our hero trying to hear the television as his spectacularly goofy dogs first try to eat the mail lady through the mail slot and then rummage through everything they see on the street during a walk. Next up he has to go see the doctor to get his regular medication refilled, which turns into a whole thing that ends up with a whole lot of ball squeezing. Should I mention that the doctor bears some resemblance to a perverted muppet? Nah, I probably shouldn’t. From there he can’t get away fast enough from a dude in the parking lot with an open head wound who’s looking for a ride, so they go on an adventure (?) together while having a long talk about the world, philosophy and everything in between, to the point where our hero seems to be warming up to the guy a bit. Then there’s a beautifully illustrated bit about the real life nature horror show that is the cowbird. That’s roughly the first half of the book, relayed in the simplest of terms by me, leaving you unaware of all the nuance and all the detail that this dude (I’m guessing the artist is a dude? If not, my apologies) puts into every panel. He ties it all together pathetically and beautifully in the end, but you’ll have to figure out that part for yourself. S.R.’s art has some hints of Dan Clowes, with maybe some Ivan Brunetti mixed in (possibly a bit of Peter Bagge in the action parts?), but in the end he’s clearly his own artist. I think I’ve reviewed every book from Heel on the Press so far, and they’re all distinctly their own weird, wonderful thing. And they’re also all damned near big enough to be graphic novels, in case you’re worried about spending money on the unknown. In that case I don’t know why you’re here, because I recommend that people do that shit all the time, but this would be a good one to go into blind. $12