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Tucson Weekly Howling Swonk

Intelligent Comics From A Couple Of Bearded, 35-Year-Old Virgins

By James DiGiovanna

SEPTEMBER 22, 1997:  WHILE THE ART world held its breath, Greg Petix and Chris Cilla worked feverishly behind closed doors, to bring us the latest volume of Swonk, their cartoon tribute to Marvel Comics, the Clinton administration, Israeli Psychics, and all such satanic things. Howling Swonk features not only the award-winning "gag strip" format that post-modern art critics like Donald Kuspit and Rosalind Kraus have called "archeo-teleologically diffident," but also a continuing story (nearly nine pages in length) featuring Uri Geller, an assortment of politically incorrect superheroes, and a mentally challenged mass murderer with a Hillary Clinton fixation. If that isn't enough, there's the recurring theme "things only Greg Petix can remember," featuring such lost moments of late-20th century popular culture as the Growing Up Skipper Doll (who went through puberty when her arms were bent behind her back), and the short-lived Abba comic book, wherein members of the band appeared as super-powered crime fighters.

Swonk appears regularly in the extremely prestigious and refined aesthetic journal The Daily Wildcat, but it avoids all the trappings of a typical "college newspaper strip"...which is to say that its jokes are intelligent and never feature someone vomiting after a kegger. Well, almost never. Rather than reading like it was written by a frat boy who regularly gets rejected by sorority girls, Swonk reads like it was written by a well-read and thoughtful writing major who regularly gets rejected by tattooed punk rock girls. It's a parade of frustrated feelings sifted through a cheese cloth of obscure but easily recognizable American icons. Buy it at your local art museum or comic book shop...or anyplace else where bearded, 35-year-old virgins hang out.


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