The Webcomic Overlook #193: Two Guys And Guy
Once upon a time, there was a TV show called Two Guys, A Girl, and A Pizza Place. It was mildly successful, lasting for four seasons and picking up twelve million viewers on its first season. The show then went all, “Hey, man, I’m sorta getting tired of pizza. Want a try something different tonight? Sushi? Mexican? Anyone?” So they dropped the “Pizza Place,” giving the show the new title of Two Guys And A Girl. Eventually, the entire title and most of the cast was chopped down until there was only Ryan Reynolds, who went on to kill the still-in-its-infancy Green Lantern movie franchise.
The show has disappeared beneath the inky black waves of television history, yet that title lives on. It seems that the Two Guys have hooked up with another Guy, because that’s the title of Rickard Jonasson’s Two Guys And Guy.
I guess that “pizza place” is still plum outta luck.
As you may have guessed, the comic revolves around three characters. Let’s start with Guy. The first thing you should know is that Guy is a girl. This is why the webcomic is entitled Two Guys and Guy, and not Three Guys.
Or, alternatively, Three Guys, A Baby, A Little Lady, and a Pizza Place.
Guy got her name because of her huge wang. Before you stare too much, fellas, and try to dissect the art to show that clearly her pants are too tight for … you know … it turns out it’s all metaphorical. She just likes to throw punches because that’s how she rolls… though you can’t rule out demonic possession.
Wayne is Guy’s oldest friend, someone’s whose companionship she’s cherished since childhood. Only .. he’s not, really. It turns out that he’s just some dude she met on the bus that she mistook for her friend, and she’s been hanging around him since. Frankly, Wayne has no idea if they’re actually friends. There’s actually a weird romantic undercurrent between the two. However, Guy has made it clear she won’t hook up with Wayne unless he’s the last man in the world… a scenario that happens more often than you’d think.
Also, Wayne is probably a clone.
It strikes me that Two Guys and Guy follows a similar structure that has been blazed years before in webcomics. Coupling a the three-person cast with sci-fi weirdness is the formula that’s kept Sluggy Freelance going for all these years. Even the characters sorta line up: Frank is similar to Riff in the field of mad science and fashion sunglasses, Wayne is sorta like Torg in that both are lovesick and jobless, and Guy and Zoe are both girls. Both casts live fairly mundane lives as young people trying to pay the bills until something weird comes their way.
The biggest difference, though, is that Two Girls and A Guy is a straight up three-panel gag comic. The comic thrives on wackiness, which usually centers around Frank’s experiments. There are no ongoing marathon stories, the hallmark and legacy of Sluggy Freelance. However, there are also no bunnies with switchblades, which is a goddamn blessing. (The strip, however, has a lot of similarities to one of my favotire Sluggy recurring features: the generally excellent one-off strips that the Rob and Elliot guys did.)
The three main characters are pretty strong character archetypes, the kind you can explain in one phrase. Guy is the “tough chick,” for example. Additionally, the character design are nice and distinct, passing that all important silhouette test. Frank’s got a hilariously emotionless face, which is accentuated by the featureless shades. Guy has features that quickly alternate from “cute” to “enraged.” Wayne has an adorable Stan-Laurel-esque tuft of hair that makes him look permanently clueless. Just by looking at ’em, you know what the characters are like.
Normally, the one-dimensionality of a character is a bad thing, especially when it comes to things like character development. This isn’t an issue with Two Guys and Guy, though. This is a gag strip in the Looney Tunes sense. The simpler, the better. Once we have a basic grip on their personalities, Jonasson goes on to screw with our expectations. Sure, a lot of the gags are rather “random.” Though, I should point out, it handles this better than most. It has a mad scientist in the cast, after all, and the punchline hardly comes out of nowhere. There’s one joke, for example, that introduces the idea of space camp in the first panel. When that’s your launching point, a space party with goofy masks really isn’t less random and more a natural progression.
Nevertheless, even the jokes where they’re just standing around and shooting the breeze have a decent set-up, and that’s primarily because the characters are so simply yet distinctly drawn that you know how they’re going to react. You can hear the venom in Guy’s voice, and you can see the defensiveness in Wayne’s face. It’s all aided by Jonasson’s crisp, clean art, which keeps things upbeat.
Still, you know, it doesn’t hurt throwing in a unicorn here and there.
Interestingly, Two Guys and Guys also contains the slightest undercurrent of existential despair. Wayne is more or less the most normal of the three. In fact, there are some hints that he would be well adjusted if he didn’t have such terrible friends. We get a sense that he’s grounded by a sense of inertia, unable to improve unless success is literally handed to him.
“What are you, a stranger to your own generation?” Wayne says. “We’re wishers and dreamers, Guy, not ‘doers.'”
Dang. That cuts to the quick, yo.
Rating: 4 stars (out of 5)
PS Incidentally, before I decided on comparing Two Guys and Guy with Sluggy Freelance, I’d though that these characters also lined up fairly well with the cast of Ctrl+Alt+Del. Wayne is like Ethan, Guy is like Lilah, and Frank is like Lucas. And then I realized that comparing any comic to CAD is a terrible, terrible idea.