Review: Hippy Jonny and the Banality of Life

‘Hippy Jonny and the Banality of Life’ fits firmly in the slacker comedy genre. Jonny finds himself unemployed and, feeling that he does not fit into the working world as is, finds himself in situations that may lead him to a more independent life.

In terms of the narrative, ‘Hippy Jonny’ feels unfocused. The opening gives us a clear view for Jonny’s life and the hints of an internal struggle, but everything feels stuck at the surface level and the thought process can feel a little self-indulgent. By the midway mark, Jonny appears to be gaining positive influences and ideas on how to improve his life, but then seems to fall into the routine of the other chapters. This brings us to the nature of conflict. The narrative definitely has elements of conflict, and then almost seems to forget them. Is Jonny truly upset about his lot in life? Will there be turmoil between his love interest and his friends? Will his exploration into how to move on with his life mean he’ll have to leave bad influences behind? It feels like the narrative wants to explore these ideas, but just doesn’t push them hard enough.

Like a lot in this series, the art is probably going to be a love it or hate it affair. However, I feel that this is where the strength lies. Ryan Dodd’s artwork has the feel of a German woodcut, and builds a lot of visual drama with light and shadow. The pages are very well constructed and a lot of panels feel like very strong illustrative pieces. There is room for development in places, but for a self-described self-taught artist, having developed such a unique style is a virtue in and of itself.

All in all, ‘Hippy Jonny’ will probably be a polarising work, and maybe people will have to make their own minds about it. The narrative doesn’t meet the strength of the artwork, but the ideas are there and with some development, things can improve over time.

‘Hippy Jonny and the Banality of Life’ is published by Tabella Publishing and is available for the iPad.

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