White Noise on Paper: Watching some “Highbone Theater” by Joe Daly

 I don’t make it a secret that I like comics that take different paths, all the overblown “stuperhero” stuff bores the hell out of me, its been done to death and every variation of some caped schmoo has been tried, granted I am sure there is people out there that will never get burned out on Batman, Iron Man and company, but for some reason I have this weird thing where if something is just overdone I lose complete interest in it. I like when people go in a different direction with the comics format which is the reason why I review mainly independent and underground “comix”. If somebody puts a new, fresh and different spin on the superhero comic than I will be interested, until then I will be reading stuff like “Highbone Theater” by Joe Daly.

Joe Daly mainly studied animation at Cape Town’s City Varsity college, and also put out the awesome “Dungeon Quest” lampooning RPG players and the equally good “Red Monkey Double Happiness Book”, with “Highbone Theater” Joe goes into stoner territory with his muscular, bearded main character, Palmer, who is a intellectual, plays the Chubush, reads books, smokes weed and has weird dreams about 9/11, his room mates are macho meatheads who hunt sharks, drink, party and screw anything and everything that moves. The art reminds me a lot of Robert Crumb’s stuff, the men are all barrel chested, with thick arms, and legs, big hands and feet, all the women are hour glass shaped with big asses. Through this all, Palmer has strange dreams that have him questioning reality itself and Palmer meets a strange man at the paper mill he works at named Billy Boy who thinks that there is people who live under the earth that manipulate events on the surface.

And the art goes from black and white when Palmer isn’t dreaming, to color when he is dreaming or high which makes me think that this is the artist’s way of saying the so called whacky dream world of Palmer is almost more real than the mundane day to day existence world.  Conspiracy theories, the occult and Gnosticism get twirled in this heady brew of a comic, the humor is absurd and sometimes I think gets lost in translation because of the different humor and culture of South Africa.

This book is thick and collects all of the “Highbone Theater” comics in one place at 572 pages in hardcover and put out by the awesome Fantagraphics, it seems that whatever Fantagraphics touch turns to fucking gold. If you want something different in your comics I highly recommend Joe Daly’s stoner opus, it will make your brain bleed, guaranteed.

So get out your joint, its always “4/20” here:


White Noise on Paper: Very, very, “Scary!”

Awww a twisted fairy tale from a twisted mind, I bet when you read that sentence back to yourself the name “Ted Jouflas” doesn’t ring a bell, “Early Tim Burton” would most likely pop up in the dark, scummy recesses of your mind. But you should know that name, “Ted Jouflas”, he draws pretty much what Tim Burton thinks but while Tim stabs, Ted twists the blade. Why nobody has animated “Scary!” Is beyond me, at least as a short film. Ted creates his own version of our reality, and I hate to re use this metaphor but its like a fun house version of our world.

This is a debauched and dark fairy tale of an egotistical, self absorbed, alcohol and drug addicted actress and model named Winkie and her perverted miss adventures, all illustrated by Kouflas. You also get Winkie’s pet poodle, a zombie cat named Mensa, a perverted plastic surgeon by the name of Dr. Nimrod, Princess Pretender, Candy Ass, Bug Boy, Dmitri and Hellbilly.

Ted Jouflas’ style is very interesting, he really goes up to the line of “abstract” but doesn’t cross it, each one of his panels or single pages moves the story along without being confusing. A couple of the panels mix in some collage also, the cover and back of the book are collage pieces. Every panel and every page of “Scary!” Is surprising and interesting, you might be disgusted, or repulsed by what you are reading and seeing but you won’t be bored.

I first encountered Ted’s work in “Weirdo” where it automatically it stood out, his “Bat Girl” strip really stung me in the eyes. I had to find more of his work, of course the awesome Fantagraphics put this out. Ted started out painting and he was such a good painter that he had exhibitions of his work in various cities and he got various art exhibition awards. At the same time he was doing free lance work for various alternative weeklies and newspapers while doing work for Rolling Stone and Spin. In the late 1980’s he started doing strips for “Weirdo”, in 1990 he moved to Seattle as Grunge was exploding and did freelance work for Fantagraphics and underground label Sub Pop. “Scary!” Got published by Fantagraphics in 2002.


Ted and his wife live in Phoenix, Arizona, his comics mainly show up in “The American Bystander” and he teaches an art class at Alice Cooper’s (yes that one, SHOCK ROCK GOD) Solid Rock Teen Center, a place Alice (real name Vincent Furnier) funds for disadvantaged kids. “Scary!” is worth every penny. The images and words will stab you in the eyes and you will like it. Required visual white noise.

So where do you get “Scary!” And shit your pants? There is cheap copies still available at most online book selling sites but I’ll give you one right now: