I’ll kick off this weekly review column with a comic that is currently in publishing limbo: Perry Bible Fellowship.  The author, Nicholas Gurewitch, has made it clear in interviews that he doesn’t want to be typecast as a cartoonist due to his ambitions to work in other media.  He’s expressed interest in filmmaking in his recent interviews, and his website includes links to some short videos that he’s written.  The few of Gurewitch’s videos that I’ve seen were funny, but nowhere near as tightly written as his strips.

That being said, Perry Bible Fellowship is quite possibly one of the funniest and oddest strips you’ll find on the web.  The title, a possible reference to the strip’s past Sunday publication schedule, has no relation to the contents of the strip itself, except as an example of the kind of non-sequitur humor in which Gurewitch specializes.  Fans of “The Far Side” will recognize his style almost immediately.

What separates PBF from “The Far Side” and its many poor imitators is that Gurewitch doesn’t shy away from dark, violent, overtly sexual, and sometimes borderline nihilistic themes.  This contrasts sharply with the vibrant, brightly colored, often cutesy art style in which most of the strips are drawn.  It also contrasts with the attitudes of the characters themselves, who often gleefully and ignorantly skip along to their inevitable dooms.

As with any comic worth reading, it’s hard to summarize PBF’s draw in a few paragraphs.  Gurewitch often experiments with a variety of art styles and themes, occasionally parodies other well-known strips (his take on “Family Circus” is particularly disturbing and funny), and generally does well at keeping things unpredictable.

Sadly, he’s removed some of his comics from his website in the last year as his most recent anthology (The Perry Bible Fellowship Almanack) is now available.  According to the website, this was done “to make the book more special.”  In spite of that, it seems there have been at least two new comics published to the website during the last year (or at least since my last visit to the site), although it’s hard to tell since there are no dates and very little explanation for much of anything provided on the site.

In summary, there’s a lot to like here if you’re into dark, absurd humor.  The jokes rarely miss their mark, and the punchline is often not what you would expect.  On the other hand, don’t expect to see more PBF any time soon.  Hopefully we’ll be seeing more of Gurewitch in other media, but for the time being, Perry Bible Fellowship remains his magnum opus.