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‘Angry Youth Comix’ is dirty, too

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J. Caleb Mozzocco

One of the funniest gags of this collection of Johnny Ryan’s Angry Youth Comix is that it even exists. It’s a beautifully designed hardcover that looks as elegant, classy and literary as a book can look. And its contents? All 14 issues of Ryan’s 2001-2008 comic-book series full of puerile, willfully offensive gross-out gags. Most of its 400-pages contain a drawing of an erection, excrement and/or an outrageous racial stereotype.

You actually can judge this book by its cover, though; look closely and you’ll notice the exquisite curlicues are actually slightly abstracted drawings of male and female bathing-suit areas. Ryan’s embrace of bad taste is, of course, part of his charm. While the jokes can be broadly grouped into the categories of sexual and scatological, he detours into such no-go areas as rape jokes and 9/11.

He’s such an accomplished cartoonist that he can, and does, get away with pretty much anything. Imagine cartoonist John Stanley adapting the whispered jokes of middle-school boys on sodium pentothal and Bud Light at a sleepover and you’ve got a pretty good idea of Ryan’s work. Expertly, beautifully drawn ugliness ... it’s offensi-riffic.

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