Sunday, September 26, 2010

Cyanide and Happiness #1, 15-100 [SEEN IT]

This counts for Monday, kids! 

So, why 15? Because for some reason Cyanide and Happiness does not have a strip 1, or a strip 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, or 14, for that matter. I don’t know what happened to them or if they ever existed, but I’ll live with it. The discrepancies mean there are far fewer strips to review!

I’m not starting with Cyanide and Happiness because it’s a particular favorite of mine, or because of its notoriety (seriously if you have never met anyone who has either loved or been offended by this comic you clearly live in the real world), but only because it was the comic with the largest archive I subscribed to on Piperka. For those who don’t know, C&H is probably the most popular feature of a site called Explosm, run by four guys named Matt, Dave, Kris, and Rob, who each do stick-figure-y comics in their own distinctive style. There’s a graphic that shows all the styles next to names but I can’t find it.

I wonder if I should just stop here and be done with the description. No, that would be too mean.

To, uh, put it nicely, C&H creates its humor by making fun of shock value. It creates shock, it makes fun of your own shock, then when you’re nice and vulnerable it goes around and shocks you again. Other media may deal with material considered morally shocking as a fact of life; C&H treats it more like an exploitation film. Whether or not it’s effective – and you do get dulled to it after a while – depends on your own sensitivity. You’ll be offended by some things, twitch at others, and laugh at still more. I may not be liked for liking it, and I won’t say it’s the best thing out there, but it’s a creative experience all the same. And I am okay with explaining all this, because it’s a gag-a-day strip and there are no spoilers. With more linear stories I will be more discreet. is where we’re starting. Follow the magic “next” button!

15. And it’s Kris! This first strip looks nothing like what Kris does nowadays (it is 2005 after all) – it resembles Dave a tad more. And right away you see the shock value. If you will direct your attention to the second word, you will see that it is “crotch.” If you are easily offended, this is your cue to run away and scream. I can’t really get this one because I refuse to wrap my mind around why someone’s crotch would be anything like applesauce. MOVING ON.

39. WE HAVE SKIPPED NUMBERS AGAIN. When C&H isn’t shocking you, it also seems to put out a series of non-jokes that still manage to be kinda funny. They’re so nonsensical and against logic that you don’t know why you’re laughing. This is one of them.

40. When I see a comic making fun of two people who are horribly disabled, and this is not the last, I like to think of a quote I think that great master of self control, Jhonen Vasquez, said – "EVERYTHING is funny. So long as you know it's a joke nothing is offensive. YOU try to protect people from wising up and getting beyond the idiotic shock and into a place where they can see how ridiculous things are.” I think that’s what Cyanide and Happiness tries to run on. Sometimes it works, sometimes it does not. I like to think that if Rob saw someone making fun of a man with no arms he’d punch him in the face.

41. Already I’ve found some strips where there’s really nothing to say about them. There’s the shock, and then you move on. If I have nothing to say I won’t comment.

42. POLITICAL HUMOR. I would say something about how this is true but political biases are very usually wrong.

43. Technically adipose lies under the skin. Don’t you just love all the JPEG pixelly-dos in these early comics?

45. There’s a lot of number skipping in the earlier strips…anyway, Charles and his girlfriend! These two are about the closest things to recurring characters C&H, and by that I mean that they repeat about once every fifty strips or so. I can never tell who to be sorry for here – girlfriend is every stereotypical trapping of the “annoying girlfriend”, clearly being super demeaning to women, but then again Charles is a dooch. I guess I could say I don’t like either of them.

46. I find it very odd that all of the men in C&H are perfectly hairless while all of the women have hair.

47. Now this one I can smile at without feeling like an awful person! Can you tell I’m saying this to make a good first impression?

48. Another tried-and-true joke method for C&H is to go on an unrelated tangent for some portion of the strip and then make the punchline somewhere else. For instance, this man’s unnoticed nudity.

90. First of all, EEEEWWW. Second of all, WHAT? 48-90? The boys at C&H either can’t count or have to own up to whatever comics they deleted!

92. I don’t understand this comic. I don’t want to. I always just assume that it takes place in a world where this is normal to distance myself from the guilt.

49. Okay, it’s official. Rob, Matt, Dave, and Kris can’t count! Also, I love the Purple Shirted Eye Stabber. He’s so…ridiculous. Who comes up with this stuff? Who would think of that kind of a silly gimmick? It’s so weird it’s hilarious in and of itself. Stabbing is not hilarious.

50. This is the first strip in four strips that has come after another strip in order and I’m still confused. Spelling error? SPELLING ERROR?

51. This is a tad self-aware for a strip. And also a bit offensive to fart humor. Farts are embarrassing. This is a fact of life. The sound FFFRRRTT? It is funny.

52. I’m not sure if I’m supposed to take this as a serious and tragic event or extended sarcasm. Either way it nets a chuckle.

53. You know what? I’m laughing. Because this is a very good point. Did you know that Freud actually had a wet nurse, and so did not develop the maternal bond with his actual biological mother? I can’t find a source for it, so it’s probably not true, but I like to believe it.

54. Apathetic birthday; it’s been done before. Though I have to say Blow Thefreakingcandlesoutihavestufftodo has an unfortunate name. D8

55. This PSES strip is not as ridiculous as the last. If only because it involves kids. Call me a softy but I like kids…

56. This…isn’t funny.

57. But THIS is. It reminds me of those children who will tell their mothers they love them while they’re in a mud puddle or something in order to get out of a punishment. It also looks very different from other Rob strips; it must be super old.

58. Another sort of non-joke. And again, most of the women have had hair. Except this baby…

95. WHAT THE HELL IT SKIPPED AGAIN. But it’s okay because I REALLY LIKE THIS ONE. The art’s getting better, the punch line is funny and unexpected…and the panel lines are STRAIGHT LINES OMG. And no babies died.


60. Well, the dance is over for now…except now I’m just a little terrified that a high five could have magical cancer powers. Except not really.

61. They have a one-armed man. They forgot to make a joke.

62. I think in its early days, and even still, C&H was a hit-or-miss. This is something closer to a hit because you can actually imagine someone who would be this much of a shithead. The gofer should sue his boss for spilling hot coffee on him. Clearly he should have been warned that the coffee was hot.

63. The idea of the sun exploding itself is kind of a paradox. It’s like a SUNOBOROS. You know, like the Oroboros, snake eating its own tail, you know…aheh…

65. NUMERICAL SKIPPAGE OCCURS. Not really jokey in a sense but the fact that this guy is OCD is kind of…cute I guess C: Also, wipe is misspelled. KRIS HAS SPELLING PROBLEMS

66. Someone painted himself white. I find no joke, only the thought that this guy is an idiot.

67. C&H SUPERHEROES OH MY GOD I LOVE THESE GUYS. They have useless powers and make things funny just by virtue of their presence because they are SO RIDICULOUS. C&H is funny when it’s ridiculous. PREPARE TO BE THWARTED by how ridiculously sexy this comic is. These will make me smile usually always. That, and Kris’s former hand-drawn panel outlines.

101. Um…I’m confused. Up there it says that I’m starting at 15 and going until I get to 100. But now I am clearly at 101.

Do I stop, or do I go on until I reach 100? Will I ever reach 100? Is there even a 100? This review probably only has 30 or so strips in it anyway, so, what the hell, let’s go on. This is the first in a series of sadly overcopied and unfunny situations in which the punchline is always the same.

100. Hey, what do you know! Comic 100, right where I lost it! 8D. 8D.

This is weird, because this comic makes more sense when it’s read AFTER comic 101. T’is a continuation, except seventeen hundred times more not cool. WHY ARE HIS GRANDMA’S BOOBS SO HUGE. AND YES, YES, SQUEEZE BOY, YOUR GRANDMOTHER IS DEAD. THAT’S WHY SHE’S ON DISPLAY IN A COFFIN. >.<

And it is on this rather unusual note that I end my first look at the older Cyanide and Happiness strips. I’m sorry if this isn’t the best first impression that I can give, but what’s done is done and I had a lot of fun getting it done. And now I’m done.

Well almost. I have to be nice to the guys and say that if you love the comic, you should totally check out the merch. Apparently their T-shirts and plushies (PLUSHIES I DIDN’T KNOW THEY HAD PLUSHIES) aren’t available at the moment, but they do have an iPhone app, which seems to consist of a lovely man in a green shirt humping your iPhone, and two collection books, which are probably the cheapest webcomic collection books I have ever seen.

Anyway, next time, I’ll sink my teeth into some DINOSAUR COMICS. WON’T THAT BE AWESOME YOU GUYS


  1. I think the joke in #61 was just a bit of "oh yeah stupid question" awkwardness.

    So! You'll obviously be doing Gunnerkrigg at some point, so instead I shall request CharCole.

  2. @Tangent128 - Ack, sorry about this format, I have no idea how to reply to comments here. But that is true, didn't think of that. And CharCole? Never heard of it...but I will check it out!

  3. I'm quite enjoying your work so far. Your knowledge of webcomic-related things never fails to impress. :D

    Looking forward to future work. :)