One Punch Reviews #60: Noncanon
Tom McHenry’s Noncanon is one of those single panel webcomics that feels like they were tossed off on a LiveJournal. They feel sporadic and of the moment, as if they’re just ideas that popped into Mr. McHenry’s mind that were given life on pen and paper (or Cintiq) mere moments later. They’re also quite funny in a way that’s both randomly absurd yet so classy that they look like they belong in the New Yorker.
Heck, maybe they are in the New Yorker. Maybe, just mabe, Mr. McHenry worte a song about it, too.
Noncanon is full of silly notions like dancing bird character for a children’s movie or bounty hunters who are also artists. A few of them seem like Mr. McHenry has two buckets: one filled adjectives and the other filled with nouns. Then he puts on a blindfold, reaches inside, and, voila, a comic is born.
At the same time, Noncanon is a webcomic that’s capable of making droll observations about life and its daily absurdities. Some can be sad, like when he observes how, no matter what the generation, we seem to be a prisoner of possessions. He observes the grim reality of vacations, and how we feel obliged to stand around and enjoy nature to justify the money we spent getting there. The comic ruminates over how back cover book photos in the 1980’s all looked alike and how nerd culture is as fleeting as everything else. Noncanon can get surprisingly deep, especially for a comic that features an alligator popping a wheelie.
There also seems to be a gentle disdain at the conventions of the avante garde and poseurs in general. The youth rebelling against the status quo are listless and arrogant. It’s almost a commentary on how we feel obligated to rebel and how we want things to change, yet no one wants to spend any measurable amount of energy doing it. (And it’s not just the youth Noncanon pokes fun at; older people in his comic seem to be living out a life of quite desperation.) Noncanon also takes a jab at those people (you know, THOSE people) who will, no fail, always resort to the age old “Why do you care about sports so much when there are problems in the real world?” chestnut. Noncanon takes a jab at the art world, too, with its pretentiously worded descriptions that are borderline parody.
The comic can get weirdly experimental. Sometimes it pairs photos of models with his crude doodles. The effect is a little unsettling; the photographs are clearly incongruous with the rest of the image, leading your brain to tie itself into knots upon knots. Sometimes his illustrations are more hastily done than usual. Some are just text. Some look like they belong on a T-shirt. And, of course, some feel like they belong in a sophisticated magazine about literature and fine dining. While oftentimes crude, Noncanon always appears more cosmopolitan than it should be.
Rating: 5 stars (out of 5).