Pour One Out for Tony Millionaire's Maakies: Drinky Crow Drinks Again

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Pour One Out for Tony Millionaire's <i>Maakies: Drinky Crow Drinks Again</i>

Writer:/Artist: Tony Millionaire
Publisher: Fantagraphics
Release Date: July 12, 2016

It’s a little mystifying that Tony Millionaire’s Maakies strip has been running weekly in various newspapers for more than two decades. Then again, any collection of weekly strips (this is his first since 2013’s Green Eggs and Maakies) can be a little confounding. Some comics, like floppies, are better consumed in bulk, the equivalent of binge-worthy TV. Sure, there are also folks (lots of them) who can’t wait for a thicker paperback and love having their continuous narrative parceled out slowly. Weekly strips are different. They can build a story (Lynda Barry’s work), talk politics (Tom Tomorrow) or, in the case of Maakies, do whatever the hell they want.

Millionaire is well educated in the daily and weekly strip tradition, paying regular homage to Johnny Gruelle and E.C. Segar. He’s also a goof. Sometimes the strip honors continuity and sometimes it doesn’t, but it does feature many recurring themes, which are about as straightforward as those of Nancy Loves Sluggo helmer Ernie Bushmiller. As Sluggo loves cake, so Drinky Crow loves his booze and Uncle Gabby is reliably disgusting. Millionaire’s Sock Monkey stories are far more gentle, based in Gruelle’s influence both fanciful (adventures!) and more grounded (probably the imaginings of a little girl whose toys transform into the characters). Maakies is a loose cannon, rolling around the deck apt to disembowel its creator as much as any intended target. Yet it, too, can be lyrical. Even when Millionaire draws a psychiatrist blowing his brains out, he renders the man’s suit with gorgeous linework. He takes a great deal of care in the presentation of sophomoric and stupid humor.

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Maakies: Drinky Crow Drinks Again Interior Art by Tony Millionaire

Below the main strip runs a secondary one, per the early-20th-century tradition of cartoon lagniappe. It’s so small and narrow that the characters’ heads are usually only half visible. The jokes here are just as puerile, but the simplicity of the drawing sets off the work above to nice effect, and they also give Millionaire the chance to draw landscape panels, seeded between those containing dialogue. Any time ships show up in the top strip, the results are wonderful—even when they feature beheadings. As horses are to Lisa Hanawalt, so nautical life is to Tony Millionaire, and every decoration is detailed with love. The tl;dr here is that even if poop gags and alcoholism jokes aren’t your thing, there are reasons to read Maakies, either collected or week to week. The commitment required is low, and the ROI substantial.

Maakies: Drinky Crow Drinks Again Interior Art by Tony Millionaire