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Weapons Grade Puntonium

Comedy is really, really difficult. You polish and refine and try so many different approaches to the same gag that by the time you actually get the laugh, the words have lost all meaning for you. It’s just a shape you make with your face, or your words, and people react. It’s so difficult, in fact, that you tend to just stick to one type of comedy. Hell, some people just stick to one joke. It’s easier than coming up with extra material and going through the same, horrifyingly laborious process all over again.

Luke Surl laughs in these people’s faces. Or he would, if he wasn’t so busy being a comic genius.

Weapons Grade Puntonium is packed, from front to back, with what is arguably the most difficult type of comedy there is, at least in comics; the single panel gag. This is the sort of thing that not even the likes of XKCD or Penny Arcade can pull off, a field left largely alone since Gary Larson’s legendary Far Side series. Whilst Luke’s work doesn’t have the fantastically dark, skewed world view of Larson’s, he has the same razor line focus on the right wording of the right gag, combined with something I’ve never seen before in work of this type; versatility.

Not a single one of these jokes is the same and I don’t just mean the content, I mean the visual style of them. Surl goes everywhere from XKCD-style relationship diagrams to extracts from books, text-based jokes and visual invention on a level where there is literally something new every page. Puns land next to site gags, geek humor shares a double page with acutely well-observed, even poignant relationship humour and every single gag is different to the last. The Mona Lisa is Borged (“Renaissance is futile”), maths jokes combine with puns and the whole thing becomes this gloriously easy to read, consistently funny collection of gentle, well observed humour.

Weapons Grade Puntonium never stops being funny and is frequently laugh out loud funny. It’s consistently, devastatingly clever, and Luke has even added a Tweet, itself a joke, to the bottom of each page. The level of invention and sheer enjoyment is huge, from start to finish. True comedy may be difficult, but Luke Surl makes it look easy.

Alasdair Stuart

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