Review – Zonzo HC (Fantagraphics)


Publisher: Fantagraphics
Writer/Artist: Joan Cornellà
Release Date:  February, 2017

Simply, cartoony artwork.  Bright, vivid colours.  At first glance, you’d be forgiven for thinking that Zonzo, the latest offering from Spanish cartoonist Joan Cornellà, could potentially be an all-ages graphic novel.  Well, dismiss that notion from your head right now, because Cornellà’s vicious, darkly comic stylings are most certainly not for younger readers — and may potentially even push the envelope a little too far for some older ones, too.

Seriously, no subject is off-limits for Cornellà’s twisted, surrealist sense of humour here as he seemingly strives to make us feel offended and laugh at the same time with every turn of the page.  And dammit if he doesn’t manage it more often than not, leaving us with pangs of guilt as we chuckle away at the pitch-black absurdity of this latest collection.   This is unapologetic satire through and through, and Cornellà seemingly takes great pleasure in the sheer impropriety he is unleashing upon the world here – and rightfully so.

Each wordless, single-page comic features the same bright, bold characters and – more often than not – ends with a facial reaction shot based on what has happened, underscoring the humour of the previous panels and almost daring the reader not to laugh.   From a technical standpoint, his work is just solid enough as he adheres fairly rigidly to the six-panel style, utilising a simplistic, almost crude style of delivery for his pitch-black jokes.  It works beautifully though, with the children’s picture-book aesthetic only serving to make the humour feel all the more ‘wrong’.

In fact, Cornellà’s work comes across at times as a slightly more surrealist (and considerably darker) version of Cyanide & Happiness, and while it arguably oversteps the mark at times, there are still some legitimately side-splitting moments to be had here.

I’m fully aware that the inherent weirdness and the occasionally close-to-the-bone subject matter (pedophilia, miscarriages and suicide are just some of the subjects Cornellà weaponises for comedic effect during the course of this collection) may not necessarily appeal to all readers, but for anyone whose sense of humour skews a little more to the darker side, you’ll be hard pressed to find a better collection than this.

Rating: 4/5.

You can purchase a copy of Zonzo HC from Turnaround Publisher Services, who generously provided a review copy of this title, by CLICKING HERE.

You can also check out Joan’s website by CLICKING HERE.

ceejThe writer of this piece was: Craig Neilson-Adams (aka Ceej)
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