A scientist has invented a device that allows him to converse with chickens. He places the microphone up to a bird’s beak. “What do you have to say, chicken?” he asks. The bird says, “Eat the other chicken.” Savor the all-ages fun of that joke: It’s about the only gag in this book that one could recount without being labeled a pervert or misanthrope. Maak- ies, Tony Millionaire’s often bile-raising series about the madcap adventures of an alcoholic crow and his simian pal Uncle Gabby, has been a regular feature in the Voice since 2003, and this latest collection includes gags about colon cancer, halitosis, caveman thuggery, bicycle seat smelling, “penile gout,” and the Iraq war.
There are also achingly beautiful images of cathedrals and battles on the high seas, old-timey banter (“Why Drinky Crow you silly goose, didn’t you know your mother allowed me to ‘have her way’ with her for three dollars?”), and part of a psalm. If the juxtaposition of artistry and scenes of two lovers vomiting into each other’s mouths is a bit unsettling, well, that’s probably Millionaire’s intent; the artist knows, as does any good Catholic, that placing the sinful alongside the sanctified only increases the fun of the former and enhances the beauty of the latter. Johnny Ryan’s Angry Youth Comics may match Millionaire’s level of unabashed crassness, but few artists have the eye and inking chops to make it all so lovely.