Have you ever read a comic and thought, "Oh, my God! Why haven't I read this sooner? Why hasn't anyone told me about this? Why am I still alive!?!" These are the exact sentiments I got after reading the Portland inspired tale Bucko. Originally published as a webcomic for free (and still is here), Bucko is a strange comedic mystery written by Jeff Parker and illustrated by Erika Moen. Dark Horse Comics has done us the pleasure of collecting the entire webseries in a wonderful hard cover collection with a healthy dosage of bonus content to please both new and old fans.
Bucko is set in a fictionalized location which bares many similarities to the non-fictional local of Portland, Oregon. Following the main protagonist Rich "Bucko" Richardson after a wild night of drinking, Bucko suddenly finds himself away from home in a stranger's apartment with a hangover and a sudden realization he's late for a very important job interview. After a tedious journey by bicycle, Bucko manages to keep the appointment, only to be hit by a serious case of beer shits while in the middle of his meeting! He storms out of the office and heads for the nearest bathroom but rather than finding a porcelain god he finds a dead man on the floor with a knife sticking out of his neck. And thus begins the crazy shenanigans that befall this 136 page book.
One of the reasons this book works so well is in thanks to Jeff Parker's comedic writing skills. Parker manages to create a world full of exciting and entertaining characters that could only reside in the weird world of web comics. He pulls from many of today's most subversive groups of young adults: etsy artists, hipsters, steampunks, juggalos, suicidegirls, the homeless, and more. While each one of these groups puts a bad taste in my mouth, watching them all come together in this unique rag-tag way is almost like watching The Goonies for the first time. Such an odd assortment. Such an amazing result!
The other specialty behind the comedy is Erika Moen's innocent childish art. Surely if this comic was drawn in realistic fashion this book would read completely differently and probably not for the better. Moen's art manages to make Bucko light-hearted and fancy-free. When someone get's punched in the face, you don't think, "Ouch!" Instead, you think, "Hilarious!" The same way when you see Wile E. Coyote get blasted by TNT you don't shed a tear. Even the moment when Bucko bursts through the door of the men's room and finds the dead body on the floor. This is a scene of sick moral disgust. But it's fucking comedic gold!
One last note to applaud these creators on is their wonderful way of tying up loose ends. Although there are many mistakes made through the comic (and both the creators like to point them out in the commentary--oh, yes! I almost forgot. This hard cover edition includes commentary at the bottom of each comic page. Which makes for just as pleasurable reading as the main story itself), the creators will leave you absolutely fulfilled with satisfying full circle plot structures. I am always amazed when I see writers create works of fiction that are tied perfectly with a bow and ribbon at the end. It just makes the book that much more special.
Overall Rating: 4.5/5 -- GREAT