One Punch Reviews #48: Three Word Phrase

One of the most intriguing aspects about Ryan Pequin’s Three Word Phrase was the name. What did it mean? Most of the strips contained more than three words. I thought maybe it had something to do with the titles of each strip being three words long… but no. They were often less than three words. The webcomic site itself is rather barebones, none of the links offering any explanation.

It turns out I’m not the only person wondering about that name, and eventually someone got a response from Mr. Pequin on his Tumblr:

It’s kind of a joke about how a lot of webcomics have names that are made up of three word phrases, and also it’s kind of a dumb self-referential thing (“three word phrase” is a three word phrase). It doesn’t really mean anything beyond that, though.


On to the review!

I think that some people too easily dismiss Three Word Phrase as yet another knockoff of Perry Bible Fellowship (hey, a webcomic with a three word phrase as the title!), only with art that’s not as painterly. And seriously, several of the strips, like one where kids toss anther kid into the carpet, do have that intangible head scratching moment where you try to figure out what the joke is. Three Word Phrase, though, is far less straight-laced. One of the main criticisms of PBF was that once you sensed the pattern, the punchline was a little too predictable. With TWP, you’re never sure what you’re going to get. It’s a webcomic that revels in the senseless.

Sure, there are times when Three Word Phrase can get darkly ironic, and oftentimes there’s no rhyme nor reason to insert some gory violence. But then, once you figure out that that’s what the formula’s all about, Pequin flips the script around on you. All of the sudden, you get comics that are too darned cute and just plain goofy. A strip about “weird internet searches” sets you up for something crass; what you get are some funny, and surprisingly less ribald, permutations of the definition.

Maybe I’m being a little childish when I laughed about strips where the punchline is barfing. Or butt abs. But, damn it, I can’t help myself. The timing of the punchlines are just right, and the generally straightforward comedy matches the simplicity of the cartoons. Three Word Phrase hits the nice sweet spot between the zen professionalism of PBF and the unhinged id of KC Green’s comics.

Besides… the president … is a BIRD?!?! Beating Matt Stone and Trey Parker to the joke has gotta count for something!

Rating: 5 stars (out of 5).


About El Santo

Somehow ended up reading and reviewing almost 300 different webcomics. Life is funny, huh? Despite owning two masks, is not actually a luchador.

Posted on June 22, 2011, in 5 Stars, comedy webcomic, One Punch Reviews, The Webcomic Overlook, webcomics. Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. Looks funny, and going straight from your Stone & Parker comment to the latest comic, Basilisk, made me read it in a Mr Slave voice. Made it even funnier.

  2. I’ve been following Three Word Phrases since John Campbell linked it up a while back — it really is one of the funniest webcomics going on today.

  3. Three word phrase is one of the few strip comics of it’s like that I enjoy. I say this rather loosely because it’s really hard to define that kind of strip… It’s almost non sequitur in it’s humour, but packed with intentional meaning. I find Three Word Phrase to be light enough in it’s delivery to really entertain me, where as others are nonsensical for the sake of it, or predictably so.

    Great review, by the way!

  4. The throwing kids on the carpet thing- the floor is made of lava, they’ve sacrificed the kid as one would do with a volcano, the ice cream truck then crashes outside putting free ice cream all over the place, thus reinforcing their superstitions. Also the Marlowe/Shakespeare violence comic is one of my faves, to me the violence doesn’t seem arbitrary at all. To each their own, though. Good review!

  5. I think it means W . T . F. you know, a 3 word phrase. (also hilarious is that the name itself IS a three word phrase) … anyhow, hilarious worth going through all of them — the squirrel getting buzzed is my fave.

  6. good stuff! reminds me of some of kate beaton’s sillier strips.

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