Craig Collins has featured here on the blog already in 2011 with his and Iain Laurie’s Roachwell collection. That was a seemingly disconnected slightly absurdist collection of strips, one and two-pagers that managed to become something much more weird and intriguing with a surprise finale that tied everything together.
Haunted Bowels is a far simpler affair, a series of gag strips from a couple of panels to a couple of pages, definitely unconnected this time (unless Collins is really managing to hide the link!). Everything in here, as you might expect from the title and cover skews towards the unusual, the quirky, the downright gruesome, the dark and the weird.
In many ways the format of it reminds me of Evan Dorkin, loads of scattershot comics, lots of styles, lots of themes… and overall, it works. There’s a lot you might call unsettling, and a lot you might simply call silly.
It fulfils the basic funny strip requirement of making me smile, although definitely in a dark, gruesome Charles Addams, Gahan Wilson style (not a bad thing). Yep, funny and surreal, dark, gruesome fun inside with a series of wildly different art styles, some to my taste, a few not so great, but Collins’ writing carries you (mostly) through the iffy stuff.
Indeed, a quick look at the titles/themes should give you an flavour of the piece: “Tourettes Banshee“, “The Lonely Ballad Of Pistol Nipples“, “Ants in the Pants of the Pirates of Penzance” (flesh eating ants that is!), “Seamus Heaney’s Heinous Penis” … well, you probably get both the idea, and the level of the gags, but if you’re still undecided, here’s a set of 4 gags….
The Glee Van Cleef is silly, but the Zinder Kurprise strip crops up several times through Haunted Bowels, and it’s pretty much this spot on every time.
Part of a two-pager; a Scottish version of your favourite vomit encrusted, hallucinating “booze-slinger“.
Finally, another repeat strip, Omniscient Zorgo – a perfect illustration of the comedy of despair that permeates Haunted Bowels.
That should definitely have given you a taste for the book I reckon. Light, quick, sure. But there’s enough in here to keep you smiling at the relentless misery of it all. Haunted Bowels is available from Collins’ Big Cartel Store.