The year was 2007. I was sixteen and had just recently gotten into comics thanks to a little shop in my area called Graphic Literature. I’d gotten to know the owner, Trevor, pretty well and he’d introduced me to titles like Preacher, SCUD and the comics of Jeffrey Brown. One day, however, I came across a comic I’d never seen before… there were pictures of empty beer bottles, syringes, and vomit on the cover. It was the most fuckin’ punk-looking comic I’d ever seen and I knew I had to have it! As I soon discovered it was XXX Scumbag Party: Volume II of the Collected Angry Youth Comix by Johnny Ryan and it was like a drug to me.
After a half hour of convincing Trevor, he finally agreed to sell it to me. I took it to school the next day and for several days afterwards would sneak off to the school bathroom after lunch and read it—it all felt so forbidden and exciting to me! Eventually I began meeting up with people in the art room before school to pass it off for other people to read. Before long a virtual underground graphic novel society was born and we were trading Crumb comics, stuff from Eros and Icarus… that’s even how I came across my first volume of Bondage Fairies.*
*If any teachers from my old high school are reading this, I deny everything.
Let’s just say Johnny Ryan’s work had a huge impact on me growing up. So imagine my surprise a few weeks ago when I found that the ENTIRE series of Angry Youth Comix was being reprinted in special edition hardcover by Fantagraphics. I’m not going say that I picked it up faster than Hitler changed from douchebag artist to general douchebag, but I will say that a few hours later my wallet was about $30 lighter. Thanks to my Amazon Prime membership I got it slightly earlier than it was supposed to be released and when it arrived I spent the first few minutes just admiring the cover. Guys, this is the kind of quality craftsmanship that wouldn’t look out of place next to my leather-bound Classics on my bookshelf… until you notice that the fancy gold leaf across the cover takes the shape of dicks, farting asses, and vaginas.
That’s what I love about Ryan’s Angry Youth Comix—it doesn’t give a fuck what your opinion of it is… sorta like that one punk you always sort of looked up to in college because of his complete lack of giving a shit. To put it bluntly, this is not an all-ages type of book and it’s definitely not for everyone. SOMETHING in this book will offend you, YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED. Seriously… if you are offended by racial (humor of any sort), dead baby jokes, scatological humor, rape jokes, Holocaust jokes, 9/11 jokes, nudity, sexual humor, bestiality, offensive religious humor or any of the other demographics that gets lampooned in this book, you’ll want to stay far away from this series. For all the rest of you sick fucks out there, get ready to revel in the exceedingly perverse comedy that is the human condition.
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