Back when I was in college, there was a nigh-mythical drinking maneuver that was only spoken about in hushed, reverent whispers. It was called “The Flaming Land Shark,” and while I don’t precisely remember the order of their use, its recipe called for the three fundamental elements of any worthwhile higher education extracurricular experience: fire, alcohol and naked human buttocks. Needless to say, it was a perilous endeavor at best, the dividends of which largely paled beneath the promise of its overarching (and fucking ridiculous) conceit. In a way, that’s kind of how I feel about the similarly titled comic book, GrizzlyShark, though perhaps more warmly.
Not surprisingly -- though in direct contrast to the aforementioned Flaming Land Shark -- this is a book that does exactly what it says on the tin. It’s JAWS in the woods, played for all the crazy yuks you’d expect. And to his credit, Ottley does a pretty great job of bleeding out the funny in a series of ongoing gags, which, even if you do see them coming from a mile away, rarely disappoint to any measurably annoying degree.
These instances include, but are not limited to, regular scenes where innocent bystanders suffer minor wounds and thus fatally attract the titular predator, a ludicrously morbid father-son camper dynamic with some of the most unnerving gallows humor in recent memory, and a comedy of errors starring dunderheaded local yokels who face literally unearthly powers beyond their mortal ken, and pay the price for it.
Regardless of the situation, the comedy of GrizzlyShark is based on the idea that all of this batshit-ness is totally normal. And overall, I really enjoyed it, even if it is basically an over-the-top horror version of the old SNL Land Shark sketch; but instead of an apartment door, the shark hides behind a rich canopy of trees before pouncing fangoriously upon its victims.
Ottley’s art is somewha looser than what you might expect from the Invincible artist, but his unbridled sense of gory fun still abounds, and in fact benefits both from a more unrestrained approach to story, and his clear childlike sense of wonder when it comes to GrizzlyShark.
Because of that, though, it does have a vaguely inconsistent feel -- experienced mostly when his panels are too wholly swallowed by what is clearly a slap-dash approach to lettering. But then again, all of that may be on porpoise, given the clear B-movie spirit of GrizzlyShark. Of course, that doesn’t mean it’s without Ottley’s incredible, overly-expressive style and famed sense of visual charm... even if it does get a bit too weirdly “Jabberjaw” at one point.
I’d never come across this book in its original incarnation, which was as an extended inside joke shared between Ottley and his fellow-artist chum (pun intended), the equally amazing Jason Howard. Howard, in case you missed it, is meant to soon round-out this intended double feature with a story about GrizzlyShark’s logical foil, SeaBear.
But I gotta say, while it didn’t evoke the peals of laughter I was expecting, GrizzlyShark was as full-tilt delirious as you’d expect, and a pretty great way to spend a good 15 minutes. I’ll definitely be back for more.
[button btn_url="" btn_color="teal" btn_size="large" btn_style="default" btn_outlined="no" link_target="blank" link_rel="nofollow" icon_left="" icon_right=""]Score: 4/5[/button]
Grizzlyshark Writer/Artist: Ryan Ottley Colorist: Ivan Plascencia Publisher: Image Comics Price: $2.99 Release Date: 4/6/16 Format: Ongoing; Print/Digital