Settling in on the lives of three slacker type funny animals, Trevor, Patrick and Leonard — I thought it was two dogs and a cat, but I saw someone online mention it was two cats and a dog, and maybe it is, but it probably doesn’t actually matter much — Jon Allen’s web comic Ohio Is For Sale, collected by Alternative Comics, uses some good old fashioned cartoon chops to bring you some clever laughs.
Allen shoots for silliness, but drapes it all in darkness, with stories that revolve around destructive behavior, death, hell, sickness, injury, post high school hostilities, and parties out of bounds, all with a philosophical tone that recalls Peanuts.
The narrative follows a group of roommates who cause their own self-destruction find themselves in the stasis of early adult life, unchanging because of your actions, making no positive action because you’re dissuaded from the lack of change.
At the same time, your life is filled with unacknowledged opportunity for change, but the numbness of your existence muffles the spark required to take advantage of these moments. Instead, you make bad decisions or no decision, and your situation becomes an endless cycle of trouble propelled by a consistent stream of very bad decisions.
That’s what Ohio Is For Sale is like. But hilarious, which might be why it reminds me so much of The Young Ones from British television. Like that show, Allen is great at inserting philosophy into the slapstick, but he’s also just skilled at slapstick, as well as using crass humor in service of the characters involved. That’s a real achievement, actually, since I find that a lot of times, cartoonists push crass slapstick so far that the philosophy and character development is drowned out. That’s fine if that’s what you’re into, but I always want more than that, and Allen is talented enough to deliver a great balance that comes together rather than playing tug of war.
John Seven is a journalist and children’s book writer living in North Adams, Massachusetts. His books include ‘A Rule Is To Break: A Child’s Guide To Anarchy,’ ‘Happy Punks 1-2-3,’ ‘Frankie Liked To Sing,’ and others. Find out about all his things at johnseven.me.