Indie comics are a very diverse field right now – there are so many genres and approaches, and the reader is the beneficiary because of this great variety. Mashbone and Grifty by Oscar Garza and Rolando Esquivel at 5 Meats Comics is a funny, joyous, raucous affair that should entertain any reader.
Mashbone (inexplicably a caveman – but it works) and Grifty (a Mexican man) are a private detective duo based out of a bar – a premise that is undeniably a trope, but one that works very well for the kind of humor the creative team is going for. It provides a bit of almost sitcom-like familiarity to the premise without overpowering the central humor of the issue. Sprinkled throughout the writing are bits of Spanglish and Latinx cultural shoutouts that add flavor – this is welcome and useful, but not excluding if the reader is not familiar. In the second they start in a new area, but use the opportunity to make a joke and play it up.
The story is funny, goofy, and irreverent. There are constant little sight gags and some good pop culture call outs. The story of the first issue is difficult to explain without ruining a joke, so suffice it to say that the creators immediately use their story real estate to map out a full court press of jokes and humor. Issue two moves to sending up sports, and the third issue is an excellent holiday issue.
Throughout all of the issues, very few panels pass without some kind of joke or setup – they are working at a rapid fire pace that functions well in terms of mood. The reader is peppered with jokes within the larger humorous framework, which function to reinforce one another. Probably my favorite part outside of the story is the Spanish glossary in issue one, which is as funny as it is useful for newcomers. The definitions still have a second level of humor that still make it funny even if someone is familiar with the expressions.
The art style is attractive, playful, and cartoonish with a very distinct look to the characters – large hands and feet that emphasize the playfulness of the characters but also set them apart from other cartoon-style drawings. The eyes of the characters are especially expressive despite the general lack of pupils – it does, in fact, seem to emphasize their expressions.
In the first issue, the colors are only on the cover and intro, but they are bright, well-done, and non-obtrusive. The black and white interiors are not hurt by the lack of color; they still have real distinctiveness and excellent contrasts. In issue two and three, the entire comic goes to color, although not how you might expect – it is almost a sort of monochrome using non-black and white (if that makes sense). When the colors shift across panels it really works to serve the story and focus attention on specific moments and jokes.
The three issues are 50 pages each (!) meaning you get an incredible amount of story for your purchase. Despite the focus on humor, these comics have quite a bit of action, fighting, and even blood! Taken altogether, what we are left with is an enjoyable, vibrant approach to telling stories with comics that I highly recommend.
Mashbone and Grifty are available here: