Two guys hang out with Guy (and tinker with tropes)

Stop me if you've heard of this webcomic about a slacker dude with rage issues. He hangs out with another guy, who's more heavyset, reasonable and soft-spoken, and a tomboy, who's a little aggressive and teases the heck out of the slacker dude. They hang around their apartment, a lot.

"Hey," you say, "that sounds like all the webcomics ever created. Ever." A legitimate observation, my friends! The setup for Rickard Jonasson's Two Guys and Guy is reminiscent of a lot of webcomics where guys just lounge around on the couch, or roommate dramas that take their cues from Friends. If you have them playing video games and talking about them constantly, you're on even surer footing.

So what's to recommend this relative newcomer to a somewhat tired set-up? Partly because Two Guys and Guy seems to be 100 percent aware of its generic nature and decided to hypercharge everything. Two Guys and Guy can almost be read as a parody of the standard webcomic tropes ... or, perhaps, it's tinkering with the Ctrl+Alt+Del formula to make them interesting. Our main guy, Wayne, isn't just opinionated; he's irritable, self-loathing and seriously depressed. He a writer who can't write, an artist who's uncreative, and he has the worst luck with the ladies. Wayne is at optimal sad-sack mode, wallowing in misery in every strip and nothing ever going his way. Clearly he's the stand-in for the author.

Is Guy, the only girl in the cast, a romantic interest? Two Guys and Guy does love to tease that there's something going on between her and Wayne, her oldest friend (though not really). Get used to your OTP having their ship constantly torpedoed (or whatever the vernacular is on Tumblr these days). Guy is happy when she's insulting Wayne, and even happier when he's bloodied and brutalized. In fact, it's a warning signal that something's seriously wrong when she's slightly less than always cheesed off. Still, in a twisted way that makes her the best friend Wayne could ever have ... in that really uncomfortable realm of emotional sadomasochism.

Which leaves us with Frank, our burly yet gentle friend of the protagonist. His face is mostly emotionless, eyes hidden behind a pair of goggles with his lips pulled taut. In most comics, he would be the voice of reason, tut-tutting the wild shenanigans of our main characters. Here, however, he's a mad scientist. While Wayne and Guy are holding down office jobs, hanging out at bars or meeting up with weird friends, Frank is summoning demons, playing with corpses or creating an acid that eats anything. It's implied, too, that Wayne and Guy just might be clones that he made to keep him company.

The gags do tend to repeat themselves, and yet I do enjoy coming back to this webcomic. Part of it is because it's fun to see what nutty misfortunes Jonasson has cooked up for Wayne, Guy and Frank; the more tears that Wayne sheds, the better. But I also like the way Jonasson draws: The characters are cleanly designed, looking a little like manga and a little like a Nicktoon. Their frame-to-frame movements subtly hint at their personalities. There's a nice strip where poor, clueless Wayne stares at his laptop while Frank, emotionally inscrutable as ever, slowly inches away. What can I say? It doesn't take much to make me laugh.

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