Maintenance #1

Written by Jim Massey
Art by Robbi Rodriguez
32 pages, black and white
Published by Oni Press

Part of the problem with trying to create a humor comic, when you think about it, is that both the writing and the art need to be equally funny. Each half of the equation normally has to support each other in a comic to begin with, but it’s doubly true with comedy; the potential difference in humor levels between the writing and the art can ruin a joke with only half of the punch line really being delivered. Fortunately that doesn’t seem to be the case with Jim Massey and Robbi Rodriguez’s Maintenance, where the two creators are in sync with each other’s funny bones.

Doug and Manny have a job that no one in their right mind would wish for. They’re janitors at TerroMax, Inc., where mad scientists continually try to perfect their evil schemes to take over the world, or at least the Golden Globes. And just when they think they’ve finished up all the craziness for one day, something new is just waiting around the corner. Pity it usually smells like human waste.

Massey has two impressions that he has to simultaneously impress on the reader. First is that what’s going on at TerroMax is a lot of crazy, larger-than-life things that would make most people jump a couple of feet in the air out of surprise. Second is that Doug and Manny are at all times completely blaise about the entire experience because they’ve truly seen it all before. Happily, it works pretty well; the combination of the two is funny, with casual mentions of carnivorous zombie kittens trapped in vending machines clearly being just another average day at TerroMax. The humor is ultimately bundled up in Doug and Manny’s interactions with everyone around them, from dryly noting that they’d already gotten the inspirational speech earlier in the day to taking a man-shark out for a couple of drinks. It’s silly and goofy, but it’s a lot of fun. With a supporting cast quickly set up in the first issue, Massey’s given himself enough story fodder for his new characters to deal with for many issues to come.

Rodriguez, as mentioned earlier, is on the same level of humor with Massey in their collaboration. He’s able to really help bring the jokes across to the reader, from the bored expressions of Doug and Manny, to the Porky’s 2: The Next Day-loving manshark and its glee at the thought of getting out of its tank for a couple of hours. It’s a loose, slightly cartoonish style, with characters like the manshark looking almost like a Hanna-Barbera produced image in its crisp designs. Rodriguez’s loose, happy art style works especially well with Massey’s script in places because it lulls you into a false sense of security. It’s easy to think how cute the talking manshark it is, right up until the point where it devours someone. It’s a nice punch line that Massey and Rodriguez work together to deliver, and it’s why their collaboration is well suited to each other.

Maintenance is silly and goofy, the sort of comic that you’re going to get more than a few laughs from. It’s got just the right combination of humor, never drowning the reader in punch lines but likewise delivering them with enough frequency that you don’t get bored. This is one awfully funny comic, and while you’d never want to actually be a janitor at TerroMax, Inc., you sure want to live it through Doug and Manny’s eyes. This is a book you’ll definitely want to read more of, and soon. Highly recommended.

1 comment to Maintenance #1