One Punch Reviews #68: Pandyland
Before reading Andrew Herd’s Pandyland, I must have read a hundred Pandyland comics. Which is surprising, because they were all the same one. That’s because one of the most notable features about this comic is the random comic generator. Basically, the comic contains a large library of images. There’s a bunch of stock images for the first, second, and third panels. Doing it right now, for example, results in this strip: character one asks for a hug, character one then socks character two in the chin, and character two goes, “Ugga Bugga Wugga Woooo.”
The magic about this random comic generator is that it’s batting over .500 in actually creating somewhat consistent comics. I could probably write a whole post on how it lays bare the nature of humor. It exposes how there’s really nothing new when it comes to telling jokes. The three panel format establishes a comfortable rhythm, taking readers down to a base level of expectations. I could probably make a point how easily amused we’ve gotten, especially since the punchline rarely matters as long as it’s a surprise. Heck… isn’t this how Hi & Lois is basically made nowadays?
Whatever the case, the random comic generator is so brilliant that I was genuinely surprised when it turned out that Andrew Herd actually was running a standard, run-of-the-mill webcomic on his site, too.
It’s sort of a let down, too, because the rest of Pandyland can only be a let down in comparison. Oh, it’s still funny, the latter day ones more so than the earlier, cruder attempts. It is, in fact, very much like KC Green’s stuff. If you randomly inserted a strip of Pandyland into Gun Show, you probably wouldn’t be able to tell the difference. Not a criticism, by the way, but a compliment… especially since I am really into that kind of anarchic, nonsequitur-style humor. Pandyland is full of jokes that should be, by all intents and purposes, totally lame and funny for only eight-year-olds. And yet, the goofy art style — filled with the expressions of bug-eyed, innocent-faced characters — swoops in and save the day.
For example, there’s a fairly simple joke where anthropomorphic characters are talking by phone, and we have a cellphone reception joke. The funniest part of it? Seeing the mole’s butt sticking up in the air as he replies, “Yeah, I just went into a tunnel.” See? That’s the secret of humor! Mole butts.
Outside the comedy of Talpidae derrieres, Pandyland contains a bit of commentary about social media. Like how the effortless images posted on Instagram are really the products of surly addicts who stage their productions. Or the terribleness of YouTube comments. It’s guaranteed to be more tangible and humorous than, say, that mess Danny Boyle directed in the Olympic opening ceremonies.
Most of the humor though, is rather simple. Goofy set up, keep the reader guessing, and then subverting expectations. Kinda like that random comic generator. Pandyland can miss at times, usually with some of the older strips, but there are times when I drop my guard and I’m laughing like crazy.
Rating: 4 stars (out of 5).