One Punch Reviews #48: Three Word Phrase
One of the most intriguing aspects about Ryan Pequin’s Three Word Phrase was the name. What did it mean? Most of the strips contained more than three words. I thought maybe it had something to do with the titles of each strip being three words long… but no. They were often less than three words. The webcomic site itself is rather barebones, none of the links offering any explanation.
It turns out I’m not the only person wondering about that name, and eventually someone got a response from Mr. Pequin on his Tumblr:
It’s kind of a joke about how a lot of webcomics have names that are made up of three word phrases, and also it’s kind of a dumb self-referential thing (“three word phrase” is a three word phrase). It doesn’t really mean anything beyond that, though.
On to the review!
I think that some people too easily dismiss Three Word Phrase as yet another knockoff of Perry Bible Fellowship (hey, a webcomic with a three word phrase as the title!), only with art that’s not as painterly. And seriously, several of the strips, like one where kids toss anther kid into the carpet, do have that intangible head scratching moment where you try to figure out what the joke is. Three Word Phrase, though, is far less straight-laced. One of the main criticisms of PBF was that once you sensed the pattern, the punchline was a little too predictable. With TWP, you’re never sure what you’re going to get. It’s a webcomic that revels in the senseless.
Sure, there are times when Three Word Phrase can get darkly ironic, and oftentimes there’s no rhyme nor reason to insert some gory violence. But then, once you figure out that that’s what the formula’s all about, Pequin flips the script around on you. All of the sudden, you get comics that are too darned cute and just plain goofy. A strip about “weird internet searches” sets you up for something crass; what you get are some funny, and surprisingly less ribald, permutations of the definition.
Maybe I’m being a little childish when I laughed about strips where the punchline is barfing. Or butt abs. But, damn it, I can’t help myself. The timing of the punchlines are just right, and the generally straightforward comedy matches the simplicity of the cartoons. Three Word Phrase hits the nice sweet spot between the zen professionalism of PBF and the unhinged id of KC Green’s comics.
Besides… the president … is a BIRD?!?! Beating Matt Stone and Trey Parker to the joke has gotta count for something!
Rating: 5 stars (out of 5).