My Favorite Things
For millenia, people have wondered what happens to us when we die. Is there a heaven or a hell? Is there merely the yawning void of non-existence. Of course, I know that when we die, our souls are transported by the Grim Reaper to the planet Venus (no, not that Venus, the other Venus) where we are reincarnated as mythological creatures in a world not unlike our own.
At least, that's what I've learned from S. Sakurai's Muertitos, which has been appearing here and there since September 2001.1. The strip follows the adventures of four preteen friends — Honeo (an eternally-pathetic skeleton and the son of Death), Lafcadio (a chöchinobake and possibly the most offensive creature alive), Ankhmutes (the mind-numbingly shallow mummy) and Youko (a gaki, and the most "normal" one of the lot). Of course, since they're eternal teenagers, there's no real reason for them to go to school at all — but hey, it gives them something to do. You know, when they're not volunteering as candy stripers, herding beetles in the great wastes, becoming flash-in-the-pan movie stars, or teaching us all very special lessons about the horrors of Thanksgiving.
For my money, Muertitos is the funniest continuity-based webcomic going. Each story arc is gripping, tightly plotted and densely packed with jokes of every stripe. S. seamlessly incorporates a wide variety of humor — highbrow jokes, lowbrow jokes, highly literate jokes, pop culture jokes, character and situation-based humor, and every combination of the above that you can imagine. Here's a strip combining some character humor with some literate jokes, from the beginning of a long story arc where Honeo and Ankhmutes help the goddess Pele learn how to ski ("Snow Ski Survival").
Or how about this one, a rapid-fire selection of pop culture jokes from the story arc where Death opens a microbrewery ("Death Brews a Pale Ale").
Or these two grimly humorous commercials inserted as a break during an extremely long storyline ("The Death/Hulamutt Action Hour").
I mean geez, where else are you going to find a strip that depicts Fatty Arbucle as a morbidly obese Jon from Garfield, makes jokes about classical greek theater, references J. Fred Muggs and makes a really filthy pun out of Conan O'Brien's name, all in the course of a single story?
And it doesn't hurt that S. has a nice, charming, cartooning style, and is willing to try and draw just about everything. Especially, um, Rubenesque women.
I could easily see Muertitos being turned into a half-hour animated show, just using the existing scripts as storyboards. It'd be ten times funnier than the crap they're airing on Adult Swim these days. You can get regular doses of at muertitos.comicgenesis.com. Older (but still highly enjoyable) stories can be found at flyingsuitreiko.com.