Great Moments In Horrific Anticomedy #1: The Case of the Crying Grandma

Every once in a while something comes along that's so incredibly terrible or stupid that you have to wonder if it's really terrible and stupid, or if it's so stupid and terrible that it actually becomes a work of genius. I can think of at least three instances of this (note to self for possible future blog posts: Mad Dog Bonner's "Big Cup", and the works of William Furr), but the following is probably my all-time favorite, because I honestly don't know if this is the stupidest thing ever, or if it's a sneaky, subversive work of brilliance. I just know it appeared in the college newspaper of my alma mater and caused more controversy, to my knowledge, than any comic that ever appeared there (which isn't hard to do, really, since the comics there are notoriously pathetic, unfunny, and uncreative at best, or absolute "might appeal to stoners, who are always the easiest-and-stupidest audience in the world, other than perhaps the French" nonsense at worst).

Nobody was prepared for this thing. People had no clue what to think of it, and the people who followed it first thought it was the horribly-unfunny product of a sick mind, but as it went on some of them started thinking that it was brilliant and the funniest thing ever. I've seen people laugh so hard at these strips that they couldn't breathe and were in danger of pissing themselves. I've seen others become angry and upset and actually scared. Personally, I thought it was hilarious anticomedy, and pretty gutsy because the neglect and abuse of the elderly isn't exactly hee-hee-ha-ha material. I love dark material that can make you laugh even while you hate yourself for laughing, and this is definitely that.

People sent letters to the editor saying they didn't know what the artist was trying to say with this strip, and many said the strip made them feel so bad that they made a point of going to visit their grandmother... and I thought, "You think you don't get the point, but that just might be it!" But then again, maybe it wasn't.

The thing is, even in retrospect, I can't decide what the artist's motivation was. A fucked-up attempt to make a touching statement gone terribly wrong? Just sick, mean-spirited comedy? A weird attempt to implicate a completely-unsuspecting audience in some horrifying social experiment that tests the limits of what mankind is allowed to laugh at, and the guilt that comes with laughing at misery? Aburdist extentialism that's so incredibly NOT funny that it loops back around and becomes hilarious? We may never know. The whole thing's so goddamned WEIRD that you just can't pin down anything about it. I have no idea who Corey Bishop is, I don't know anyone who does, and that just adds to the mystique of this thing. And I don't think I even want to know for certain what he was trying to do here. That'd just ruin it.

To this day, the words "crying grandma" (which is the identical visual punchline - if punchline it can be called - of every joke/non-joke in the strip, except the finale) can make people who've seen these laugh until they wheeze. But I think it's an either-you-get-it-or-you-don't thing, because some people react to the strip with disgust and horror and want Corey taken into custody just for drawing such a thing.

I thought I'd have to scan 'em in, but to my great surprise it turns out they're already online and can be found here. So, without further overanalysis from me, I expose you to the weird thing known as... New Day in its entirety. You, at least, have been warned.

1 comment:

  1. Teeheehee... its not slap-yo-knee funny, but there's something clever there. Kinda like Alan Moore's Weeping Gorilla, which would just show up in the backgrounds of some book from his America's Best Comics Line, crying + thinking some bleak, stand-alone thoughts:
    "The garage thinks its the clutch."
    "What do you mean, you need more space?"
    "I hate my body." and my very favorite...
    "Can we hear that Radiohead track once more?"