If you were to say to me, “Mike, old buddy, there is a comic out there that combines a strong existential plot with succinct, hilarious writing and amusing illustration.” I would first ask who the heck you were and how you knew me, but then I’d scoff and say, “Yeah, right.” But it is true! I come to you, random reader, to tell you of the delights of Dan Long’s wonderful comic, Edmund Finney’s Quest to Find the Meaning of Life.
Like most good comics, the concept of this Long’s comic is fairly simple: Edmund Finney is a guy with an exceptionally large nose and a burning desire to learn about the meaning of life. So he does what any existential proboscis would do: he goes on a walkabout and keeps a journal of his travels. Along the way he meets a colorful cast of characters, each personifying one or more mundane aspects of society. There is the balloonist who’s quest is to take everything literally, the shipwrecked CEOs who refuse to learn anything from their predicament, and the denizens of Ad-land, who constantly try to sell you things that you don’t need.
Most of the strips are thinly veiled social commentary, pointing out the idiosyncrasies of popular culture, politics, and consumerism. Long is able to write the vast majority of these strips without coming across as preachy or condescending, more as if he is just pointing out how silly everything is and leaving the judgment up to the reader. Visually, the strips recall Gary Larson’s Far Side comics of yesteryear (a personal favorite of mine) with some similarities to comics like Amazing Super Powers. While the art isn’t the star here, it is pleasant enough and fits well with Edmund’s sort of haphazard quest.
All in all, I’ve really enjoyed this comic over the last few months and would highly recommend it. While it isn’t exactly a laugh-out-loud comic, it never fails to get a chuckle and a knowing smirk. Also, there is a nifty hidden aspect of this comic: if you hover your cursor over the comic, it brings up a little comment from Edmund that furthers the joke and is often uproariously funny. Check it out!
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